Northwestern defeats Houston 13-9 in winner's bracket game at NCAA Austin Regional
May 19, 2012
AUSTIN, Texas -- Sophomore left fielder Mari Majam went 4-for-5 with three runs scored and an RBI, while senior first baseman Adrienne Monka hit a three-run homer and drove in four runs to lead the Northwestern softball team to a 13-9 victory against Houston in a winner's bracket game of the NCAA Austin Regional on Saturday afternoon at Red and Charline McCombs Field.
With Saturday's win, regional fourth-seed Northwestern (29-27) advances to Sunday's regional championship game at Noon Central. Third-seeded Houston (35-23) will play in an elimination game later tonight at 6 p.m. Central against the winner of this afternoon's Texas-Auburn contest. Northwestern will have two opportunities on Sunday to secure the NCAA Austin Regional title.
Freshman Amy Letourneau (13-9) picked up her second victory of the Austin Regional in the circle for the Wildcats. Letourneau entered the game in the second inning and worked the final 5.2 innings, allowing four unearned runs on three hits while striking out two and walking seven. Bailey Watts (16-9) took the loss for the Cougars, tossing 1.2 innings and allowing seven runs (one earned) on six hits while walking two.
Houston jumped out to an early lead with three runs on three hits in the bottom of the first. With one out, Ashleigh Jones walked and Reina Gaber singled to put runners on first and second. Haley Outon followed with an RBI single to left field to score Jones. Melissa Gregson then hit a two-run double to right center that brought home Gaber and Haley Outon.
Northwestern answered with seven runs on five hits and a costly Houston error in the second. With one out, Olivia Duehr walked and Meghan Lamberth followed with an RBI double to left center to score Duehr. After a throwing error by UH third baseman Holly Anderson extended the inning, Majam delivered a two-out RBI single to bring home Kristin Scharkey. Monka then jumped on a 3-2 pitch and sent it over the wall in center field for a three-run home run, her 14th of the season, to give the Wildats a 5-3 advantage. After Marisa Bast reached on an infield single, Letourneau launched a two-run homer to left that forced Summer Groholski to replace Watts in the circle for the Cougars. Six of the Wildcats' seven runs in the inning were unearned.
Houston responded with a pair of runs in the bottom of the second. With one out, Jones singled and advanced to second on a throwing error by Northwestern shortstop Emily Allard. Gaber hit an RBI double off the wall in right field to bring home Jones. Haley Outon followed with a single to center and advanced to second on the throw, while Gaber moved to third on the play. After Letourneau replaced Lamberth in the circle for the Wildcats, Gregson hit a sac fly to score Gaber and trim the deficit to 7-5.
Northwestern again immediately answered with three runs in the top of the third. The Wildcats used a trio of singles by Duehr, Lamberth and Allard to load the bases. With two outs, Monka drew a four-pitch walk to score Scharkey. Bast then hit a two-run single to score Allard and Majam to give Northwestern a 10-5 advantage.
Diedre Outon replaced Groholski in the circle for the Cougars in the top of the fourth, and the Wildcats added a single run on three hits. With two outs and runners on second and third, Scharkey hit an RBI infield single to score Letourneau and increase the lead to 11-5.
Houston scored three runs in the home half of the sixth. The Cougars loaded the bases on a walk, hit-by-pitch and an error by Northwestern third baseman Marisa Bast. With two out, Anderson walked to bring home Gregson and Jones followed with a two-run single to cut the margin to 11-8.
Northwestern responded with a pair of runs in the seventh. With two outs and runners at second and third, Bast hit a two-run double to left center to score Allard and Majam and give the Wildcats a 13-8 cushion.
Houston closed out the scoring with a single run in the bottom of the seventh. Haley Outon led off the frame with a walk. Gregson then reached base and went to second on a throwing error by Letourneau, and Outon came around to score on the play. After loading the bases with one out, UH twice had the tying run at the plate. Letourneau sealed the victory by retiring Deidre Outon and Anderson on consecutive ground outs.
Bast went 3-for-5 with four RBI, while Letourneau, Duehr, Lamberth and Scharkey each added two hits for the Wildcats. Gaber went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI, and Gregson drove in three runs to pace Houston's offensive attack.
Shorstop Kendra Cullum set a UH school single-game record, as she was hit-by-pitch four times. Cullum has now been hit-by-pitch 21 times during the 2012 season. First baseman Jennifer Hooker also tied a Houston single-game record with four walks during Saturday's contest.
On advancing to the Regional Championship tomorrow: We're excited about it. We're also excited about outlasting Houston in today's game. We'll be ready to play tomorrow. We're just taking it one game and one pitch at a time. We're not really reflecting on the big picture. We're just here to play softball.
Senior First Baseman Melissa Gregson
On the difference in today's game: I think we all were swinging at better pitches. We were aggressive on good pitches, and it worked out well for us.
On the seven-run second inning: Well at one point I walked out there during that inning and just said `A strike is still a strike and an out is still an out. Nothing here at Regional is any different than any other strike or out we've had all year. We're trying to make it a little too big. We just need to keep it simple.' I think that was the big key right there. We just weren't able to do that mentally.
Senior Left Fielder Melissa Gregson
On gaining any momentum for tonight's game: Absolutely. I think everyone felt great today at the plate. Tonight we don't know whom we are going to be facing yet, but we are going to be ready to attack. We know that we have to leave everything out on the field tonight.