AUSTIN, Texas -- Jacqueline Williams (Arlington, Texas) launched a two-out double into left center field and plated Lacy Robinson (Highlands, Texas) and Wynter Turner (San Pedro, Calif.) to score both Texas runs in the fourth inning, and Cat Osterman (Houston, Texas) threw a one-hit shutout as the Texas softball team defeated Mississippi State, 2-0, to win the NCAA Austin Regional Sunday afternoon at McCombs Field.
With the victory, Texas (45-11) advances to the first-ever NCAA Super Regional, which the Longhorns will host at McCombs Field next weekend against Bethune-Cookman (50-17) who won the Gainesville Regional, going 3-0 in the event, with a 5-2 victory over South Florida. Mississippi State (35-31) saw its season come to an end after going 2-2 at the Austin Regional.
This season marks the first year the NCAA has shifted its format for the softball championships. This year, the winners of each of the 16 four-team Regionals advanced to one of eight two-team Super Regionals. Those winners will move on to the Women's College World series. Before this season, the winners of the eight eight-team Regionals moved on to the WCWS.
Osterman (27-6) threw her third shutout in three starts at the regional and pushed her scoreless streak to 41.1 innings. Earlier in the regional, she threw a no-hitter against Massachusetts in the opening game on Friday and a perfect game against Mississippi State on Saturday.
Williams and Chez Sievers (Mission Viejo, Calif.) both went 2-for-3 in the game.
With the victory, Texas pushed its all-time record in the NCAA Tournament to 16-10 and is now two wins away from the program's third Women's College World Series appearance (1998, 2003).
Texas had a pair of base runners in the first inning after Sievers had a two-out double and Desiree Williams (Tucson, Ariz.) drew a walk in the following at-bat, but Megan Willis (Chandler, Ariz.) - who had entered the game 4-for-5 at the Regional - popped up to end the inning.
Mississippi State put runners at first and second with no outs in the second inning, but Osterman struck out the next two batters and forced a ground out to end the inning. After that threat, the Bulldogs had only one base runner - Lindsay Hunley who drew a walk in the sixth inning - for the rest of the game.
The Bulldogs' Ragan Blake (4-3) took the loss, going 4.0 innings and allowing both runs on five hits while striking out four and walking one. Kelli Miller entered in relief in the fifth inning to close out the game.
All-session tickets ($20) for next weekend's NCAA Super Regional are on sale now at all Texas Box Office locations and at TexasSports.com. Single-session tickets ($8-12) will go on sale on Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. at the same locations.
Mississippi State Head Coach Jay Miller
Overall impressions of the game and his decision to start (freshman pitcher (Ragan Blake): I was really proud of the way our players competed today. When you're playing against Cat (Osterman), you have to make the most of the opportunities that you get. We gave ourselves better opportunities today. I thought we hit the ball harder and put the ball in play more, but they made some great plays out there and that's what this game is all about. Ragan Blake gave us quality innings and kept us in the ballgame. Everybody's a quality pitcher on our staff, and Ragan did well the last month of the season. I felt she gave us an opportunity to win the ballgame, and she did. I felt really good about the way we competed today. We take our hats off to Texas. They came in and did the job, and we wish them the best of luck next week.
On facing Cat Osterman a second time: We had a little different strike zone behind the plate today, and that makes a difference. As a hitter, you always make adjustments from one game to the next and one pitch to the next. I thought we did a better job until the last inning when we got a little anxious and pressed a little bit.
Freshman pitcher Ragan Blake
On making her second start of the year, and it being in the Regionals: It was a great feeling, but as a pitcher you just have to go out there and do your job and play for your team. Every time you go out, it's a different outing and you can't think of what happened yesterday. I thought I pitched as well as I could, and that was my job.
Texas Head Coach Connie Clark
On the game and result in general: It's good to be home and good to be staying home for next weekend! The fans here really helped us out all weekend long and it is great to be rested and staying at our own place. We've really continued to build on what we did at the Big 12 Tournament (which Texas won), and we've maintained our momentum. We are very pleased to get this done in three games.
On starting Jacqueline Williams in the designated player spot: She made me look good today, didn't she? Jackie was really swinging well in warmups and was hitting line drives. Monica Askew, who started the last two games at DP, has been making some adjustments at the plate, and after I watched warmups today, I felt that Jackie looked really ready to go. She has a great eye at the plate and I have a lot of confidence in her.
On what her impression is about UT's Super Regional opponent, Bethune-Cookman: We saw them play a couple of years ago down at the UT-San Antonio tournament. They will be a very worthy opponent. They do the little things really well and they don't beat themselves. They are very consistent.
Junior pitcher Cat Osterman
On her performance (3-0, with two no-hitters and a one-hitter) during Regional play this weekend: It is tournament time and there is plenty of time to rest between Monday and Thursday to get ready to go all weekend. Today, I put the ball where it needed to be and relied on my defense a little more than I have the last couple of days. They made some great plays behind me. It is always exciting to see your defense make some great plays, and today's performance goes to show you that it is not just a one-man show.
Sophomore designated player Jacqueline Williams
On her at-bat in the fourth when she drilled her two-out double: She (Ragan Blake) is my kind of pitcher. She threw a lot of rise balls, and during that at-bat, I just tried to look at something down in the zone. I was a little anxious, fouling off the first pitch (to deep left) on a hit-and-run. Then I finally got my pitch down lower and was able to drive it to the wall.