No. 8/8 Softball defeats Northwestern 5-0 at NCAA Austin Regional
May 20, 2012
AUSTIN, Texas -- Junior All-America pitcher Blaire Luna tossed a two-hit shutout with 15 strikeouts to lead the No. 8/8 Texas softball team to a 5-0 victory against Northwestern at the NCAA Austin Regional on Sunday afternoon at Red and Charline McCombs Field.
With the win, regional top seed Texas (45-11) forces a second regional championship game against regional fourth-seed Northwestern (29-28) in a contest that will begin at 3 p.m. Central. The game will be televised on Longhorn Network. The winner of that contest will advance to next week's NCAA Super Regional.
Luna (20-5) earned the victory for the Longhorns in the circle, allowing just two singles and one hit batter in a dominating performance. She struck out 15 of the 24 batters she faced and held Northwestern without a base runner until a two-out single in the fourth by Adrienne Monka. Luna's 15 strikeouts marked her career high in a postseason contest, topping her previous best of 14 set twice before (including in the opening game of this year's Austin Regional on Friday). In her three appearances at the Austin Regional, Luna has recorded 37 strikeouts against just three walks in 19.0 innings.
Amy Letourneau (13-10) took the loss for the Wildcats, working 3.2 innings and allowing four runs (one earned) on five hits while striking out one and walking one. Meghan Lamberth relieved Letourneau in the fourth and tossed a hitless 2.1 innings while striking out one and walking one.
Texas, playing as the visiting team, got on the scoreboard first in the top of the third. With two out and no runners on base, Taylor Hoagland lined a 1-1 pitch over the wall in left field for her 17th home run of the year to give the Longhorns a 1-0 lead.
Texas added to its lead with three runs on two hits and an error in the fourth. The Horns used back-to-back singles from Courtney Craig and Torie Schmidt to put runners on first and second with one out. Taylor Thom then laid down a sac bunt back to the Northwestern pitcher, but Letourneau's throw was wide of the bag at first, allowing Craig to come around and score. With runners on second and third after the error, Kim Bruins reached on an RBI fielder's choice as Schmidt beat the throw home to give Texas a 3-0 lead. After Bruins stole second and Mandy Ogle walked to load the bases, Thom scored from third on a wild pitch by Letourneau. Lamberth then replaced Letourneau in the circle for the Wildcats and got out of the inning without further damage.
The Longhorns scored their fifth and final run of the contest off reliever Sammy Albanese in the seventh. Hoagland led off the frame with a double to left center and advanced to third on a wild pitch. With two outs and Hoagland still at third, Craig lined an RBI triple down the right field line to bring home Hoagland.
Craig went 3-for-4 with an RBI and run scored, while Hoagland went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI to pace the Texas offensive attack.