AUSTIN, Texas -- Freshman shortstop Desiree Williams (Tucson, Ariz.) went a career-best 3-for-4 and scored two runs, and senior third baseman Wynter Turner (San Pedro, Calif.) went 2-for-4 with an RBI as the fourth-seeded Texas softball team used a six-run, 10-hit attack to post a 6-1 victory over Bethune-Cookman on Saturday to win the NCAA Softball Austin Super Regional and claim the school's third Women's College World Series bid in the program's nine-year history.
Texas pitchers Meagan Denny (Crowley, Texas) and Amy Bradford (Lufkin, Texas) combined to four-hit the Wildcats in the second game of the best-of-three series. Texas awaits the winner of the No. 12 Alabama/ No. 5 Texas A&M Super Regional in College Station. The winner will be the Longhorns' first-round opponent at the WCWS next Thursday, June 2, at 8:30 p.m. Central at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City. The game that will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and also on Austin's Sports Radio 1300 AM "The Zone."
Texas (47-11) won its 12th-straight game as it enters the WCWS, while Bethune-Cookman (49-19) ends its season, advancing further in the postseason than any other Wildcat squad.
The Longhorns took an early lead in the second inning when Desiree Williams led off the inning with a double and scored on Turner's double two batters later.
Texas added to its lead in the third when MicKayla Padilla (Cedar Park, Texas) scored on a throwing error, and Williams smacked an RBI single to plate Chez Sievers (Mission Viejo, Calif.) and extend the Texas lead to 3-0.
Texas would then tack on two more runs in the fifth by way of three hits and a Wildcat error to make it a 5-0 game.
A Sievers RBI groundout in the sixth made it a 6-0 lead for the Longhorns, but the Wildcats were able to get on the board in their half of the sixth on a Rachel Kilbert sacrifice fly, making the score 6-1 in favor of UT.
Bethune-Cookman's Amber Jackson went 1-for-2 and scored the lone Wildcat run.
Denny (10-1) made her third postseason start to take the victory, allowing no runs on three hits, while striking out three and walking two. Bradford entered in the fifth to close out the win for the Longhorns, allowing one unearned run on one hit with two strikeouts. Katie Finn (19-5) took the loss for Bethune-Cookman after entering in relief in the second inning. Lauren McCoy started and was pulled after Williams' inning-opening double in the second, but reentered the game in the fifth to close out the contest in the split appearance. Finn went 1.2 innings, allowing two unearned runs on three hits while striking out one. Viveca Patterson also threw 2.0 innings, allowing two unearned runs on four hits.
Bethune-Cookman Head Coach Laura Watten
About the game in general: The first couple of innings, Texas got onto Lauren (starting pitcher McCoy), and I could tell she was tired. Since Texas had seen her last night, I wanted to keep their bats down, so I switched pitchers to keep Texas off-balance and try to shift the momentum. In this environment that we are in, you cannot give them (Texas) any momentum. We know they are going to hit, but we are going to hit, too, and I knew that we would come around, and we did. We put the ball in play today and hit it well, and did everything we wanted to do offensively. But on defense, we needed to make the plays, and we did not.
Overall impressions of the Lady Wildcats' season: First, I am proud to say we had an excellent year, so we are going to take all the positives into next year. I have an incredible team, an incredible group of girls. This is one of the tightest teams we've ever had, and the most fun team we've put together. (Senior pitcher) Lauren McCoy and (junior shortstop) Amber Jackson have driven everything on this team, offensively and defensively.
Senior pitcher Lauren McCoy
"I feel fantastic about the season - we beat a lot of great teams and made a lot of strides. We've only been a competitive team for seven years, and some of the teams we play have been in existence for 20 or so years. So, the steps we've taken and the places we've gone in this short of time is phenomenal, and that's what a lot of people may overlook."
Texas Head Coach Connie Clark
On the game in general: It was good to be at home again this weekend. The crowd played a big role in both games. We felt comfortable in our own environment. Today, we were more aggressive and made them force the issue several times. It was a good win, and everyone got involved. We are excited to be going to Oklahoma City. This time, I think we will be much more patient this time at the World Series than we were a few years ago.
On Megan Willis' play behind the plate: Today, we really wanted to keep the lineup the game. Willis is a great field general behind the plate. We spent a lot of time this week making sure Willis and (Meagan) Denny were on the same page. Momentum came our way after the great defensive plays by Willis (who threw out three runners on two pickups and one steal attempt). Megan loves making those plays when runners are on base. It was at those times that you really felt the momentum start to come our way.
Freshman pitcher Meagan Denny
On making her first NCAA Tournament appearance, hurling the first four innings and pitching a three-hitter for the win: I went out there very excited and enthusiastic today. Everyone on the team did something major to contribute, and it always pumps me up everytime one of my teammates makes a great play.
Sophomore catcher Megan Willis
On her defensive play (throwing out a base-stealer and having two pickoffs): It is always fun to go out and throw the ball around! When they got on base early in the game, they were leaning a lot and expecting the ball to be put in play. It is always exciting to be able to help your pitcher (Denny) in situations like that.