Softball defeats Houston, 10-1, in elimination game at NCAA Austin Regional
May 19, 2012
AUSTIN, Texas -- Senior second baseman Lexy Bennett went 3-for-4 with four runs scored and two RBI, while junior All-America pitcher Blaire Luna went the distance in the circle to lead the No. 8/8 Texas softball team to a 10-1 run-rule victory in five innings against Houston in an elimination game of the NCAA Austin Regional on Saturday night at Red and Charline McCombs Field.
With the win, regional top seed Texas (44-11) advances to Sunday's regional championship game at Noon Central against regional fourth seed Northwestern. The Longhorns would need to defeat Northwestern twice on Sunday to secure the NCAA Austin Regional title, while Northwestern needs just one win to advance to next week's NCAA Super Regional. All Sunday contests at the Austin Regional will be televised live by Longhorn Network. Houston concluded its season with an overall record of 35-24.
Luna (19-5) earned the victory for Texas, working 5.0 innings and allowing one run on four hits while striking out nine and walking one. In her two appearances at the Austin Regional, Luna has struck out 23 batters and walked just two in 12.0 innings. Sophomore Bailey Watts (16-10) took the loss for the Cougars, tossing 5.0 innings and allowing 10 runs (eight earned) on 12 hits while striking out three and walking six.
Texas, playing as the visiting team, took control of the contest early with three runs in the top of the first. After a leadoff walk by Taylor Hoagland, Lexy Bennett sent a 2-1 pitch over the wall in left field for her 12th home run of the season and 35th of her career (third in UT history) to give the Longhorns a 2-0 lead. Nadia Taylor followed with a single and advanced to third on a Courtney Craig double to left center. Torie Schmidt reached on a throwing error by Houston second baseman Julia Pecina to load the bases. With one out, Kim Bruins hit a sac fly that drove in Craig for the third run of the inning.
The Longhorns added a pair of runs in the second. With one out and Bennett on first after reaching on a fielder's choice, Taylor doubled off the wall in left field to advance Bennett to third. Craig hit an RBI infield single to score Bennett and move Taylor to third. Schmidt then lined an RBI single to center to bring home Taylor and give Texas a 5-0 cushion.
Houston got on the scoreboard with a single run in the third. With one out, Deidre Outon doubled off the wall in right field. Holly Anderson walked and Ashleigh Jones singled to center to load the bases. Reina Gaber then delivered an RBI single to center to score Deidre Outon. Luna managed to get out of the bases-loaded jam without further damage by retiring Haley Outon on a pop foul to third and a strikeout of Melissa Gregson.
Texas answered with four runs on four hits in the fourth. Bennett led off the inning with a single and advanced to third on Taylor's second double of the contest. Taylor's hit marked her 15th double of the year, setting a school single-season record for most doubles. Courtney Craig walked to load the bases, before Schmidt reached on an RBI infield single to plate Bennett. Taylor Thom then drove home Taylor with a fielder's choice to push the lead to 7-1. After Bruins walked to load the bases again, Mandy Ogle hit a sac fly to score Craig. Pinch-hitter Karina Scott delivered an RBI single to bring home Thom and increase the advantage to 9-1.
The Longhorns closed out the scoring with an insurance run in the fifth. Bennett led off the frame with a double down the left field line. With two out, Schmidt reached on an error by UH shortstop Kendra Cullum and Thom walked to load the bases. Bruins walked to bring home Bennett for UT's final run of the contest.
Taylor went 3-for-4 with two runs scored, while Craig and Schmidt added two hits each to aid the Texas offensive attack. In her three games at the Austin Regional, Bennett is hitting .750 (6-for-8) with two home runs, three RBI and six runs scored.
Game notes: The Longhorns set a new school single-season record for team hits and now has 485 on the season, passing the previous mark of 471 set in 2009...the Longhorns added to its school record for runs scored and now has 348 on the season...the 27 wins this season at McCombs Field are the third-highest in program history...Texas is batting .324 as a team in three regional games this weekend...Lexy Bennett is batting .750 in three regional games (6-for-8) with three home runs...Taylor Hoagland now has 55 runs scored to set a new UT single-season record, breaking her own record of 54 she set last year...tickets are still available for Sunday's action at McCombs Field with the box office opening up at 11 a.m...tickets are $9 for adults and $6 for children.
2012 NCAA Austin Regional Texas vs. Houston - Game 5
TEXAS POSTGAME QUOTES
Head Coach Connie Clark
Opening Statement: I think what stands out the most is the resilience this group showed. It hurt a lot losing last night. We talked about that yesterday. This morning, the seniors got the team together to have a team meeting, and they were ready to go today. I think they feel like they're never out of it, and that has been because of everything we dealt with this year. The leadership we got from the seniors is what stands out to me. We're excited to get after it tomorrow.
On the importance of scoring early: Well that was one of the goals that the team talked about. We wanted to come out and be ready in the first inning and try to care of the little things that we can control. It was pretty significant in both games today.
Senior third baseman Nadia Taylor
On the focus of the team: It was more of a no fear attitude. We wanted to come out and get things done. We had business to handle. The girls did a great job today, especially Courtney (Craig) and Lexy (Bennett). They helped lead the team today.
On the attitude of today: The conversation we had today before the game was all about staying focused and playing every pitch like it was our last. The demeanor was great, and we didn't take a pitch off.
Senior second baseman Lexy Bennett
On the team's performance today: We had a good time. I think everyone did a really good job. One of our goals today was having good energy and being consistent throughout the whole game. I think everyone did a great job of keeping that intensity up. Overall, it was a very successful day.
On being the visitor in the second game: We definitely took it as a positive. I know sometimes you think of it as a negative thing since the home team obviously gets the last at bat. But I heard Coach Clark tell us that we were going to score first. That was one of our goals, and I think we did a really good job of that. I think that set the tone for the entire game.
HOUSTON POSTGAME QUOTES
Coach Kyla Holas
Opening Statement: Thanks to Texas, they did a great job hosting. I appreciate everyone of our fans that come out to support us. We were really thankful to be here.
On what is the toughest thing to swallow after this weekend: We were better than that, that is one of those things that we told our kids. We are going to work really hard to make it doesn't happen again.
On the fourth inning: For us, we kept trying to talk to our team about making those first strikes into smaller zones, any time you have that kind of movement on that kind of ball it is tough. When we got around to doing that it paid off, we just have to remember to do that consistently, inning after inning.
There is so much growth that we know this team is going to be capable of. We are really young in some really key positions: two sophomore pitchers, two freshmen and everyone else, we only played one senior this entire postseason. The future is very bright. Hopefully, we have some great girls coming in and we can get Jamie Edwards, who is a .300 hitter for us back.
Sophomore pitcher Bailey Watts
On the challenge of facing Texas: They are power hitters. They did their job today.
On the takeaway: I think, I learned a lot about myself, especially with where my weaknesses are. It is bitter sweet because you come back hungry for the next year, but you also know that people are moving on and graduating. It is hard to swallow.
Senior outfielder Melissa Gregson
On Blaire Luna: She is a good pitcher, I was always trying to get in on the first pitch, my first at bat I got a hit, my second at bat, I had foul ball with the first two pitches. It did not turn out the way I wanted, but that did not change the mental game of going out there to attack her.
On her four years at the University of Houston: Overall, we achieved more this season than a lot of people thought we would. I was very proud to be a part of that and to lead. I thank everyone at the University of Houston for everything that they have given me, I would not have been where I am today without them.