Softball falls to top-seed Michigan, 4-0, at Women's College World Series
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Top-seeded Michigan posted two runs in the fourth inning, snapping a 0-0 deadlock, and went on to a 4-0 victory over fourth-seeded Texas in the winner's bracket of the Women's College World Series on Friday night at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in front of 4,560 fans. The Longhorns suffered their first loss in their last 14 games and fell into the losers' bracket where they will face the winner of the No. 2 seed California/No. 3 seed Arizona elimination game at 6 p.m. on Saturday in a game that will be aired live on ESPN.
Texas (48-12) was one-hit on the night as MicKayla Padilla (Cedar Park, Texas) beat out an infield hit in the opening at-bat of the game before Michigan (62-5) starter Jennie Ritter - one of three finalists for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year - retired the next 20 batters and benefited from a caught stealing to seal the shutout and send the Wolverines into the winner's bracket finale on Sunday.
UT's Cat Osterman (29-7) took the loss, allowing three earned runs on six hits in 5.2 innings of work with 12 strikeouts and no walks. She struck out 10 of the first 12 batters, but allowed the first three batters of the fourth inning to reach base on hits. Allesandra Giampaolo led off the inning with a single, before Jessica Merchant followed with a single to put runners on first and second. Both runners then came home when Samantha Findley doubled to left center. Osterman struck out the next two batters and got out of inning when Stephanie Bercaw fouled a bunt off of her leg in fair territory.
Ritter (35-2) threw her 16th shutout of the season, allowing the lone UT hit while striking out 12 with no walks.
Michigan tacked on one run in each of the sixth and seventh innings. With one out in the sixth, Merchant singled and stole second before coming home on Nicole Motycka's single to the gap. After that hit, Meagan Denny (Crowley, Texas) entered the game in relief, ending the inning with a strikeout. The following inning, Bercaw scored when Tiffany Haas singled her in. Denny went 1.1 innings, allowing one run on two hits with three strikeouts.
With the win, Michigan moved on in the winner's bracket where the team will face the winner of the DePaul/Alabama vs. Tennessee loser's bracket. The Wolverines need only one win to advance to the championship series, which begins next Monday, June 6.
Michigan advances to play a yet-to-be-determined opponent in Game 12 on Sunday at 2 p.m. CDT. Texas will play Saturday at 6 p.m. in Game 9 against the winner of the elimination game between Cal and Arizona.
Tonight's WCWS session attendance of 4,560 brings the three-session total to 12,718, which ranks fifth through three sessions all-time.
Michigan improved to 55-0 when it scores first, 21-1 when it scores at least three runs and 35-0 when it does not commit an error.
Michigan has already doubled its all-time WCWS win total with a 2-0 start this season. In the Wolverines' seven previous appearances they registered a combined record of 2-14. This marks the first time UM has won its first two WCWS games.
UM 1B Samantha Findlay drove in both of the Wolverines' runs tonight and leads her team with 11 postseason RBIs.
UM pitcher Jennie Ritter collected her 16th shutout of the season, which is the second best single-season mark in UM history (two short of Vicki Morrow, who set the record of 18 in 1987).
Ritter also became the first pitcher to hold Texas to one hit since April 9 against Nebraska, which is a span of 75 games. She gave up a hit to UT leadoff hitter Mickayla Padilla in the first inning and then retired the next 20 batters in order. Ritter faced the minimum number of batters in the game.
Michigan improved to 16-3 against ranked teams this season, while Texas dropped to 15-8. Texas fell to 1-6 all-time against Michigan. UM is also the first team to defeat Texas twice this season.
Texas' Cat Osterman fell to 29-7 on the season. In her seven losses, Texas has scored a total of five runs and has been shut out in five of those contests.
Osterman's scoreless innings streak of 60.1 innings was snapped in the fourth inning. Her win streak of nine also ended tonight. The game also marked just the third time this season that the Longhorn ace has allowed three or more runs (she gave up three of Michigan's four runs).
Osterman allowed six hits tonight, which was one more hit than she had allowed in five complete games this postseason. The six hits is the second highest total she has allowed this year, one short of the seven hits Texas A&M posted against her on April 27. She was pulled after 5.2 innings, which marks the first time in 30 starts that she has not completed a game that she started.
On hitting with two outs: Well, we can't get them to do it with one out actually. I don't know if I have any other answer than our kids are relentless and they don't back down, and they don't think of things in terms of what the pitcher is doing around them. They also don't think of it in terms of two outs. They just think of it in terms of seeing the ball and putting it in play, and they have done an outstanding job all year.
MICHIGAN JUNIOR JENNIE RITTER
MICHIGAN FRESHMAN SAMANTHA FINDLAY
MICHIGAN SENIOR JESSICA MERCHANT
TEXAS HEAD COACH Connie Clark
On deciding to pull Cat Osterman: They were making some adjustments on her. They came into the game and knew that they were going to make plays and they did a good job of stringing things together. I thought it was a good time to go to Meagan Denny. Any opportunity we can get her some experience, we want to do that and I think it was an appropriate time to make a change because of what Michigan was doing.
On Michigan pitcher Jennie Ritter: I thought she threw exceptionally well tonight. We went in with a gameplan that let us know that she likes to work away. Unfortunately with our gameplan, I think we helped her a little bit too often early, especially with her rise ball. You have to credit her, she threw an exceptional game tonight.
TEXAS JUNIOR CAT OSTERMAN
On the Michigan lineup: They have a pretty solid lineup. The middle part of their lineup is difficult to get around. (Jessica) Merchant hits the ball and then you have Findlay followed by Nicole Motycka. That part of the lineup is tough to battle against. They made adjustments against me early on.