May 13, 2006
TULSA, Okla. - In a classic pitcher's dual, top-seed and tournament host Tulsa tiptoed past the third-seeded University of Houston softball team 1-0 in an elimination game Saturday morning at the Conference USA Championship on the Tulsa campus.
Tulsa (33-22) advances to face Marshall (33-22) in the C-USA championship game at 2:30pm with the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Regionals on the line, while the Cougars (40-23) conclude the regular season with its most wins in program history.
The game featured three hits and eight baserunners between the two teams. C-USA Pitcher of the Year Angel Shamblin (16-10) was the hard-luck loser for the Cougars, being touched up for two infield singles and an unearned run.
Tulsa hurler Maren Genow (15-9) gave up four walks against three strikeouts en route to a one-hitter. It was Genow's fifth shutout of the season.
"It definitely came down to one inning and anything that happens as far as who gets the break, the timely hit or any error that happens makes the difference," head coach Kyla Holas said. "This morning we just happened to come up short on that one thing."
The Golden Hurricane scored the game's lone run taking advantage of a Jessica Barr two-out walk in the second inning. A Jessica Valis throwing error on a softly tapped ground ball kept the inning alive.
With runners on second and third base, Kelly Miller legged out an infield single deep in Valis' hole by a couple steps giving Tulsa a 1-0 advantage.
Jamie Adams was Houston's first baserunner in the third inning and was retired on a fielder's choice by Jaci Gonzalez. Tulsa first baseman Katie Torres threw the ball past Genow, which allowed Gonzalez to scamper over to second base, but Gonzalez was out trying to advanced to third as Tulsa third baseman Lindsay Galloway tracked down the ball and fired a strike to Genow who was covering the bag.
Houston got its lone hit off Genow when Valis led off the fourth inning with an infield single. Valis moved to second base on a Katie Bush sacrifice bunt, but was retired at third on a fielder's choice ground ball by Elaina Nordstrom.
The Cougars put pressure on in the fifth inning stringing together consecutive walks from Laurie Wagner and Adams. The duo moved up 60-feet into scoring position on a passed ball, but Gonzalez struck out looking on a 3-2 pitch on the inside corner ending the theat.
Shamblin kept Houston in the game, retiring 13 consecutive batters after the Miller infield single in the second all the way to a Sara Dyer lead-off single to open the seventh.
Genow was able to seal her fifth shutout of the season getting the Cougars to go down in order in the seventh.
"Even with today's result, we found what we need to have here at the end of the season," Holas said. "We are a young group that accomplished a lot, including many program firsts and team honors. We were in every game and we feel that we lost due to ourselves not because our opponents beat us. That's something we can control in the future."
Houston will now hope for an at-large bid to the NCAA Regionals. The selection show is slated for 2:30pm CDT Sunday afternoon on ESPNews.
Conference USA All-Tournament Team
C - Rachel Folden, Marshall
IF - Katie Torres, Tulsa
IF - Ashley Brenan, Southern Miss
IF - Leigh Wintter, Marshall
IF - Jaci Gonzalez, Houston
OF - Brooke Smart, Tulsa
OF - Jamie Adams, Houston
OF - Ashley Mitchell, Marshall
UT - Sara Dyer, Tulsa
P - Abigail Harter, Marshall
P - Julie Fennell, Tulsa (MVP)
This morning was the third consecutive season that Houston has played on the final day of the Conference USA Championship ... The Cougars fall to 0-3 all-time on the final day of the C-USA Championship ... Houston has now lost three of four all-time meetings with Tulsa ... The Cougars drop to 10-7 when the opponent scoring first and to 4-14 when scoring less than two runs ... Houston falls to 15-8 when wearing white jerseys and white pants ... The Cougars are now 9-9 in one-run games ... It was the fifth time that Houston was shutout this season ... The one hit was a season-low ... Jessica Valis and Elaina Nordstrom are the only Cougars to start in all 63 games this season ... Valis added her team-leading 72nd hit in the fourth inning ... Fifty-one of Valis' team-leading 72 hits have not left the infield ... Katie Bush notched her team-best 15th sacrifice hit in the fourth ... Jamie Adams and Christa Raley each had their hitting streaks end at five and four games, respectively ... Adams was able to draw a pair of walks ... Reaching on a fielder's choice in the third inning, Jaci Gonzalez has reached base in 31 of 43 games when in the batting lineup, including 17 of her last 21 games ... Adams and Gonzalez were the only Cougars to reach base in all four of Houston's C-USA Championship games.