Softball advances to Women's College World Series with 9-1 win over Washington
AUSTIN, Texas -- The No. 3 seed Texas Longhorns exploded for nine runs, including three home runs, and rode a two-hit, 11-strikeout effort by senior lefthander Cat Osterman, en route to a 9-1 six-inning victory over Washington in the deciding game of the 2006 NCAA Super Regionals at Red and Charline McCombs Field. The game was called after six innings due to the NCAA eight-run rule.
Thevictory vaults Texas, now 54-7, into the 2006 Women's College World Series for the fourth time in the program's 10-year history.UT also went to the WCWS in 1998, 2003 and last year (2005). UT's all-time WCWS record is 4-6, and the Longhorns finished third (tied) in 2003 and 2005.
The WCWS runs from June 1-7 in Oklahoma City, Okla., and the eight-team field will be finalized on Sunday (May 28) at the conclusion of Super Regional play.
Texas swept the best two-out-of-three Super Regionals, winning 1-0 Friday (May 26) prior to Saturday's victory. Washington ends its season with a 35-25 mark.
At the plate, the Longhorns were powered by a five-run second inning, highlighted by a two-out, 210-foot grand-slam home run down the right field line by senior centerfielder Tina Boutelle. It was UT's first grand slam of the year and Boutelle's 10th of the season.
Up 5-1, Texas got four more runs in the sixth, when senior second baseman Chez Sievers ripped a three-run home run to left field with one out. It was a 215-foot shot to push UT's lead to 8-1. The next Texas batter, junior catcher Megan Willis, slammed a solo homer to left for the 9-1 edge. It was Sievers' second round-tripper of the campaign and Willis' fourth.
The nine runs by the Longhorns were the most ever by the squad in UT's NCAA Championship history (of 37 games). Texas' three homers also set the school's record for most homers in an NCAA contest.
Boutelle led the UT attack, going three-for-four with a single, double and homer, while driving inthe four runs and scoring two others, and extended her hitting streak to seven games. Willis and senior rightfielder Amber Hall were both 2-for-3 at the plate.
Osterman improved to 37-2 with the victory, and established the Texas single season victories record in the process. On Friday, she had tied her own record of 36 wins, set in 2002. With her 11 strikeouts, Osterman moved to No. 4 in NCAA Division I single season strikeouts as she enters the WCWS with 590, surpassing Tennessee's Monica Abbott who had582 in 2004. Osterman herself has the third-highest season strikeout mark (with 593 in 2005).
The lone Washington run came against Osterman in the fourth and was unearned. Aimee Minor hit a long fly ball to center and Boutelle and leftfielder MicKayla Padilla collided in the process of going for the ball against the fence, with the ball dropping out of Boutelle's glove for an error. Minor moved to third on the error and then came home on a two-out RBI single by Ashlyn Watson.
The run was the first and only scored against Osterman in the 2006 NCAA Championships to date. She had hurled 31.2 scoreless innings before Minor came home.
Taking the loss for Washington was freshman righthander Danielle Lawrie, who pitched the first 2.2 innings after hurling a complete game on Friday night. Lawrie yielded five runs on five hits, walking two and striking out three. The last 3.1 innings were thrown by Husky Caitlin Noble. She gave up four runs - all earned - with five walks and five strikeouts.
Saturday's attendance at McCombs Field was 1,435 (paid attendance) at McCombs Field, and is the third highest single season game attendance mark in UT history. The highest was 1,570, set on April 30th of this year against Oklahoma State in UT's regular season finale.
Texas ended the year with an impressive 32-1 mark at McCombs Field. It was the most victories ever in a single season at home for the Longhorns, with the former record 28 wins set in 2003.
On facing a pitcher like Cat Osterman...
Washington freshman pitcher Danielle Lawrie
Washington junior second baseman Dominique Lastrapes
Texas Head Coach Connie Clark
Texas senior centerfielder Tina Boutelle
Texas senior pitcher Cat Osterman
Texas junior catcher Megan Willis
Texas senior second baseman Chez Sievers