Softball records 4-2 win in Game 1 of NCAA Super Regional over Oregon
May 26, 2012
AUSTIN, Texas -- Junior All-America pitcher Blaire Luna went the distance and senior third baseman Nadia Taylor belted a three-run homer to lead the No. 8 Texas softball team to a 4-2 victory against No. 12 Oregon in the opening game of the NCAA Austin Super Regional on Friday night at Red and Charline McCombs Field. With Friday's win, the No. 6 national seed Longhorns (47-11) need just one victory on Saturday to advance to the Women's College World Series. The Ducks (42-16), the No. 11 national seed, would need to defeat Texas twice on Saturday to advance to the Women's College World Series.
Luna (22-5) earned the victory for Texas in the circle with her complete-game effort, surrendering two runs on seven hits while striking out 10 and walking four. Junior Jessica Moore (30-13) took the loss for the Ducks, tossing 5.0 innings and allowed four runs on eight hits while striking out three and walking none. Karissa Hovinga relieved Moore in the sixth and allowed just one hit and struck out one in her one inning of work.
Texas registered its 30th victory of the season at home, matching the program record of 30 wins that was set by the 2006 team.
After both pitchers controlled the action for the first three innings, Texas scored the first run of the contest in the bottom of the fourth. Courtney Craig led off the frame with a double off the wall in left center and advanced to third on a Karina Scott groundout. Torie Schmidt then brought home Craig with an RBI groundout to short.
The Longhorns added to their cushion with a two-out rally that produced three runs in the fifth. With two out and no runners on base, Taylor Hoagland and Lexy Bennett hit back-to-back singles to put runners on first and second. Taylor then hit a 1-1 pitch over the wall in left center for a three-run homer, her 11th of the season and 32nd of her career (tied for fifth in UT history), to give Texas a 4-0 lead. Taylor's shot marked her fourth homer in six postseason contests this year.
Oregon answered with a single run in the sixth. With one out and no runners on base, Kailee Cuico launched a solo home run over the wall in left field for her 12th homer of the year to trim the margin to 4-1. Christie Nieto followed with a walk and advanced to third on a double off the wall in left field by Alexa Peterson. Luna got out of the jam by retiring Moore on a groundout to third and striking out pinch-hitter Liz Brenner.
Oregon mounted a two-out rally in the seventh, as back-to-back singles by Kaylan Howard and Kelsey Chambers put runners at first and second and brought the tying run to the plate. A wild pitch from Luna coupled with an error by second baseman Lexy Bennett, who dropped the ball while trying to tag out Chambers in a rundown, allowed Howard to come around from second to score and cut the lead to 4-2. After a walk to Cuico put runners on first and second, Luna got Nieto to ground out to first and close out the victory.
Texas and Oregon play game two of the NCAA Austin Super Regional on Saturday, May 26. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m. Central, and the contest will be televised nationally by ESPN. Should Oregon win that contest, the two teams would meet again at approximately 6:30 p.m. Central for the right to advance to the Women's College World Series. The if-necessary third game also would be televised nationally by ESPN.
Game Notes: Oregon will be the designated home team for Game 2 (and Game 3 if necessary after winning a coin toss)...Nadia Taylor now has 32 career home runs, good for fifth place on the Texas career list to tie Tallie Thrasher (2007-10)...Blaire Luna has not allowed a run after the opposing leadoff hitter has reached base in the inning eight times this postseason...Luna recorded double-digit strikeouts for the fifth time in her last six starts...Luna's four walks were the most she has allowed in the last five games...Courtney Craig recorded her 14th double of the season, moving into a tie with three other players for second place on the Texas single-season list...Texas is now 17-1 this season when hitting one home run in the game...the Longhorns are 35-4 when scoring first this season.
2012 NCAA Austin Super Regional
TEXAS POSTGAME QUOTES
Head Coach Connie Clark
Opening Statement: I'm probably going to sound like a broken record, but the seniors have been playing amazing. Every time they come to the plate, something exciting is bound to happen. Nadia Taylor and Courtney Craig got those first rallies going. Blaire Luna gave us a great game tonight. Oregon has a tremendous lineup. They are very balanced and have great power. I thought Blaire did a really nice job pitching to them in that ball game.
On winning Game 1: Every game is important. If we didn't win I would have a different speech tonight. You just have to come out and play hard. This Super Regional has two great teams matched up, and I think you could tell in the first half of the game that we haven't played each other much. I think it makes for a very interesting day tomorrow.
Junior pitcher Blaire Luna
On finishing the game: I tried to slow the momentum down a little bit. Coach and I talked about that. I was a little bit nervous out there. I was trying to focus on hitting my spots and not trying to over-do it. I think Oregon did a great job putting the ball in play and making us work.
Senior third baseman Nadia Taylor
On the run-down play at third base: Lexy (Bennett) did a great job. We were joking about it a few minutes ago. I told her to tag both players. She did a great job tagging both. In those types of plays you always want to be sure to get the out, and I think she did a great job of that.
On winning Game 1: It feels great. We were all talking and wanting to get this first win in order to set the tone. We know we are going to try our best and go get it tomorrow afternoon. Tonight, I think the pitching staff did a great job, and the hitters did a great job adjusting.
2012 NCAA Super Regional
Head coach Mike White
On whether or not he will send Jessica Moore to the circle for game two: That's a good question. I'm going to go back and see how she feels. More than likely, I mean it's one game and you're out for us, so the big thing is for me to try and get that first win for us in the Super Regional. Right now we're in our third year and we haven't won one and we need to get a game obviously to make this thing a contest. I thought we hit the ball fairly well, but like I said we didn't make the most of our opportunities.
On why he took Jessica Moore out of the game in the fifth inning: Just to give her a rest. I thought we needed to stop the momentum a little bit and give Karissa (Hovinga) a shot in there. She throws pretty good off-speed and maybe (we could) kind of slow their bats down a little bit. And it worked. Karissa threw a shutout inning for us there and we almost came back.
Sophomore first baseman Kailee Cuico On whether the team has a comeback mentality: It always goes down to the last out of the seventh inning. You can't ever give up until that last out and we didn't. I feel like everyone's giving good at bats and it's one hit at a time. We didn't capitalize as many times as we could, left a few runners on, but it goes down to that last out. You can't give up.
On how Oregon was able to string together hits in the last several innings: Blaire (Luna) threw a good game. She threw really well and she's working up and down and you just have to stay patient and zone it up and see it deep, pick and choose. You can't be over-aggressive out there and I think we kind of slowed it down more towards the end and started seeing her deeper and hitting her harder.