OKLAHOMA CITY -- Megan Willis' (Chandler, Ariz.) sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth inning plated Tina Boutelle (Katy, Texas) and gave the seventh-ranked and third-seeded Texas softball team a victory over sixth-seeded Kansas, 1-0, in the opening round of the Big 12 Tournament on Thursday at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium. After a scoreless regulation seven innings where the two teams endured steady 30 mile per hour winds blowing in from center field, Willis connected for her third game-winning RBI in the last four games for the Longhorns.
Meagan Denny (Crowley, Texas) threw the longest outing of her career, going eight full innings for her sixth shutout victory of the season to move her to 9-2 on the year. She allowed three hits, striking out eight and walking three in the win. KU's Christina Ross (11-7) took the loss, going 7.2 innings, allowing one run on five hits while striking out four and walking three.
With the victory, Texas (39-11) advanced on the winners' side of the tournament bracket and will face seventh-seeded Nebraska in a second-round game on Thursday evening at 7 p.m. The Cornhuskers advanced to the double-elimination bracket after thier 6-0 victory over Texas Tech in the play-in game, before knocking of second-seeded Oklahoma, 1-0, in its first main bracket game. Kansas (30-21) fell into the losers bracket and will face OU in an elimination game at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday.
Boutelle led off the eighth inning and after falling behind 0-2 in the count, she battled back to draw a walk. Chez Sievers (Mission Viejo, Calif.) then dropped a bunt and beat out the throw, putting runners on first and second with no outs. Desiree Williams' (Tucson, Ariz.) sacrifice moved the runners over, setting up Willis for the fly-out to score the run.
Sievers finished the day 2-for-4, while Amber Hall (Deer Park, Texas) also collected a hit in her first game back from injury in 13 contests. Williams and pinch-hitter Monica Askew (Houston, Texas) - who is now 4-for-7 in that situation this season - had the other UT hits. Boutelle collected two walks in the game to tie her career high.
The wind affected play right away in the first inning as KU's Heather Stanley reached first when her pop up was blown around and dropped by the UT defense. Jackie Vasquez then reached on an infield single that the wind also affected and after a sacrifice bunt moved both runners over, Denny struck out the next two batters to end the inning. That was the last time in the game that a Jayhawk reached third base.
UT had a baserunner in every inning except the fifth, but couldn't push a runner past second base before the eighth inning.
Live stats and a live Internet broadcast will be available at TexasSports.com for all of Texas' games at the 2005 Big 12 Softball Tournament.