Softball downs Alabama 3-0 to open Women's College World Series
OKLAHOMA CITY -- The fourth-seeded Texas softball team put three runs on the board with two outs in the sixth inning to pull out a 3-0 victory over 12th-seeded Alabama on Thursday night in the first round of the Women's College World Series at the Hall of Fame Stadium in front of 4,254 fans. With the victory, the Longhorns move to the second round where they will face top-seeded Michigan on Friday evening in a 9 p.m. Central game that will be aired live on ESPN2.
Texas (49-11) pushed its undefeated streak to a season-best 13 games, tying for the fourth-best mark in school history. Alabama (62-14), who entered the tournament as the eighth-ranked team in the country after winning the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Tournament, will face DePaul on Saturday, June 4, at 1 p.m. on ESPN in an elimination game. Earlier in the day on Thursday, Michigan defeated DePaul, 3-0, to set up Friday and Saturday's contests.
After a scoreless first five innings that saw both teams amass one hit apiece, Texas' Jacqueline Williams (Arlington, Texas) drew a lead-off walk to open the sixth and was pinch run for by Melanie Jarrett (Odessa, Texas). The Longhorns then recorded two straight outs - both via strikeouts - with the runner still on first. But the next batter, Tina Boutelle (Katy, Texas) - already 1-for-2 on the night with the Horns' lone hit up to that point - stepped up and blooped a 1-0 pitch into no-mans-land in shallow left field, which was scored a double and plated Jarrett all the way from first.
Chez Sievers (Mission Viejo, Calif.) then came up and beat out an infield single back to Crimson Tide pitcher Stephanie VanBrakle to bring in Boutelle from second, who was running on the pitch. The next UT batter - Desiree Williams (Tucson, Ariz.) - stepped up and extended her hitting streak to seven games with a shot back up the middle that plated Sievers to round out the scoring.
The three runs was all Texas pitcher Cat Osterman (Houston, Texas) needed as she threw her ninth one-hitter of the season for her 21st shutout of the year. She struck out 17 batters without issuing a walk, facing one batter over the minimum in seven innings. The 17 strikeouts matched the Women's College World Series record for strikeouts in a seven-inning game, which Osterman (29-6) already co-owned with her 17-strikeout performance against California in 2003.
VanBrakle (33-7) took the loss, throwing a complete game four-hitter while walking one and striking out seven.
Alabama recorded its lone hit in the second inning when VanBrakle beat out an infield single that went deep in the hole at shortstop. After that hit, Osterman and the Horns retired the next 18 batters to end the game and push the team into the second round.
Desiree Williams' hit in the sixth inning gave her a hit in each of the last seven games, marking the longest hitting streak for a Texas player this season. Boutelle also pushed her personal hitting streak to five games, a season-high for her. Additionally, she had her eighth game-winning RBI on the season, a team best.
The Longhorns and Wolverines - Friday evening's second-round match-up - have already met once before this season with Michigan taking a 7-0 victory over UT in the semifinals of the Kia Klassic on March 20, in Fullerton, Calif. In that game, UM scored five first-inning runs (one earned) off of Amy Bradford (Lufkin, Texas) to go on to the victory as Texas managed three hits in the game, two by Boutelle.
· Alabama is also making its third trip to the World Series and its second in three years. The Crimson Tide has amassed a record of 1-6 in Oklahoma City. Alabama's lone WCWS win came in 2000 against DePaul. Alabama has failed to win an opening round game at the WCWS.
· Tonight's matchup marked only the third time in history that Alabama and Texas met. With its win this evening, Texas now leads the series 2-1. The teams last met for a two-game series in Austin, Texas, in 1999.
· Texas All-America pitcher Cat Osterman has posted a shutout in each of her past seven starts and has allowed only five hits combined in those outings. Osterman, who faced one over the minimum tonight, has also won nine straight games. She allowed just one Crimson Tide hit (by pitcher Stephanie VanBrakle to lead off the second inning) and did not walk a batter. · Alabama failed to score a run for the first time since April 2 when the Tide suffered a 3-0 loss to Mississippi.
· Osterman struck out 17 batters tonight and has now fanned 11 or more hitters in all 30 of her season starts. The 17 K's also tied her previous WCWS record of most strikeouts in a seven-inning game. Northwestern's Lisa Ishikawa (1984) also shares that record. Alabama's 17 strikeouts tonight marked a season high (Tide hitters struck out 10 times against Florida on March 30 for the previous season high).
· Alabama fell to 16-10 against ranked opponents this year while Texas improved to 15-7 against top-25 teams.
· Alabama pitcher Stephanie VanBrakle surpassed the 600 innings pitched mark and brought her total career innings hurled to 602.2. She gave up four hits and one walk while striking out seven in 6.0 innings tonight.
· Texas' Tina Boutelle's game-winning RBI double extended her hitting streak to five games and resulted in her first RBI in those contests. Also, UT's Desiree Williams pushed her hitting streak to seven, the longest of any Texas player this season, with an RBI single that resulted in the third run for the Longhorns.
· Thursday's two-session attendance of 8,158 marked the fifth largest figure through two sessions in the history of the WCWS. The four highest two-session marks are 10,572 in 2000 and 2004, 9,208 in 2003 and 8,264 in 2001.
Texas Junior Pitcher Cat Osterman
On close games: We are used to it, but we don't like it. Tonight it was just a matter of time before we got things going. Tina (Boutelle) got a hit in the first inning and we were putting the ball in play all game. I think we were making some good cuts at the ball and by then end of the game we were able to string some hits and runs together.
Texas Junior Outfielder Tina Boutelle
Texas Freshman Shortstop Desiree Williams
Alabama Head Coach Patrick Murphy
Junior Stephanie VanBrakle
On if losing in the first round of the SEC Tourney and coming back to win helps with tonight's loss: It definitely helps. We're not out of anything. Nobody here is out of anything, we all have to fight. We've got to put this behind us. We faced the best pitcher in the nation. Everything else should be easier from this point on. We need to go out and be fearless. We need to go out with an attitude that nobody is going to beat us without us fighting one hundred percent.
Alabama Dominque Accenturo