May 19, 2007
COLLEGE STATION - Laura Durham ripped a grand slam with two outs in the fourth inning to cap a six-run fourth inning as the University of Houston softball team captured an 8-1 victory over No. 7 Texas A&M in a winner's bracket game at the NCAA College Station Regional Saturday afternoon at the Aggie Softball Complex on the Texas A&M campus.
Houston (44-16) moves to the regional championship game Sunday at 1pm CDT. The Cougars face off against No. 7 Texas A&M after the Aggies defeated Sam Houston State 6-0 in an elimination game.
The win for the Cougars also matches the highest ranked opponent that Houston has defeated in program history. Houston knocked off No. 7 LSU 3-1 during the 2003 season.
"Anytime you get a chance to beat someone who is top 10 in the country you're on cloud nine" head coach Kyla Holas said. "I hope that's one of the things we can do is carry this momentum with us into the championship game. We've put ourselves in a really good spot with this. Hopefully we can finish it out."
Angel Shamblin once again went the distance for Houston in the circle, earning her 31st win of the season. The Florida native recorded six strikeouts against two walks and was touched up for one run on five hits.
"Our defense did a tremendous job once again of backing me up and making the plays that needed to be made," Shamblin said. "I went out there and mixed my pitches up. I wanted to keep them off balance and keep them guessing on what's coming next."
Amanda Scarborough allowed eight runs, all unearned, and fell to 22-8 on the season. Megan Gibson tossed 3.1 innings of one-hit relief for the Aggies.
Houston pushed across two runs in the third inning as Katie Bush opened the frame with an infield leadoff single. She moved to second base on an Amanda Grote sacrifice bunt. Grote also was safe on the play as Texas A&M second baseman Joy Davis dropped the exchange, allowing Bush to move to third base.
Elaina Nordstrom drove Bush home on a RBI-single to give Houston a 1-0 advantage. A Christa Raley sacrifice bunt put runners to second and third base. A passed ball by Texas A&M catcher Beverly Rowan allowed Grote to score and make it 2-0.
The Aggies (41-11) responded in the home half of the frame with a leadoff triple by Sharonda McDonald, while Jamie Hinshaw trimmed the Houston lead to 2-1 with a RBI-single up-the-middle. Hinshaw advanced to second on the throw.
A single and stolen base by Scarborough put runners on second and third base with one out. Shamblin dug deep, getting a ground ball and strikeout to keep the score at 2-1.
"Angel being able to get out of that jam was really the defining moment in this game," Holas said. "She was able settled in and go back to work after that."
The Aggie defense recorded two quick outs in the fourth inning, but a Scarborough throwing error extended the frame in addition to letting Bush move to second base. Grote and Raley produced RBI-singles to put Houston ahead 4-1.
Houston loaded the bases as Haley Valis kept the two-out rally by knocking a single to centerfield. Durham fell behind 1-2 and fouled a few pitches off before breaking out of a 0-for-13 career slump against Texas A&M with a grand slam over the right field wall.
"It was only a matter of time actually before a hit came, because playing with those girls (for two seasons) it's almost like facing your own pitchers in practice," Durham said. "I struck out in my last at-bat. I didn't want to go down looking at the same pitch. I knew I hit the ball hard, but I didn't think it had enough to get out."
"We've been plagued with leaving runners on base all season," Holas said. "It was nice for some key people at some key times to step up. Our players showed maturity in their at-bats and a lot of composure to be able to capitalize at critical times."
Shamblin nailed down the victory by retiring 13 of the final 14 batters she faced. The lone blemish during that stretch was a Macie Marrow one-out walk in the seventh inning. Marrow was doubled off on a line drive for the final margin of 8-1.
The Cougars will play No. 7 Texas A&M for the NCAA College Station Regional championship at 1pm CDT. Live video along with live stats via GameTracker will be available on UHCougars.com
This afternoon's game was the 11th all-time meeting between Houston and Texas A&M on the softball diamond ... The Cougars snapped a four-game losing streak to the Aggies ... The win over No. 7 Texas A&M matches the highest ranked opponent that Houston has defeated in program history ... The Cougars defeated No. 7 LSU 3-1 during the 2003 season ... Houston improves to 3-2 in NCAA Regional action ... The Cougars improve to 28-0 when scoring four or more runs ... The Cougars have compiled a 118-30 mark since the start of the 2004 season when scoring first, including a 35-7 mark in 2007 ... Houston has won 108 of its last 112 decisions since the start of the 2004 season when taking a lead into the seventh inning ... The Cougars played without Conference USA Player of the Year and shortstop Jessica Valis for the eighth consecutive game ... Angel Shamblin added to her single season program record by picking up her 31st win in the circle ... The Florida native has allowed two or less earned run in 36 of her last 41 starts dating back to last season ... This is Shamblin's first career win in four starts against Texas A&M ... Elaina Nordstrom has started in all 122 games of her career ... Laura Durham also has played in all 122 games of her Houston career since transferring from Texas A&M ... Katie Bush has made 119 consecutive starts in centerfield ... Bush has scored a run in three of her last four games ... The Brenham native broke a stretch of nine consecutive games without a hit with her 12th multi-hit game of the season and 24th of her career ... Amanda Grote has notched a hit in seven of her last nine games ... Elaina Nordstrom is on a season-long seven-game hitting streak with a RBI-single in the third inning ... She has scored a run and picked up a RBI in her last two games ... The California native now has 112 career hits and tied Leslie Seay (2001-02) for the No. 8 spot on the program's all-time list ... With her RBI-single in the fourth inning, Christa Raley has reached base in 38 of her last 47 games ... Haley Valis extended her hitting streak to a career-long seven games ... Four of the seven games have been of the multi-hit variety ... The Shiner native has produced a RBI in five of her last nine outings ... Laura Durham also is on a career-long seven-game hitting streak ... The Pearland native broke out of a career 0-for-13 slump against Texas A&M with a grand slam in the fourth inning ... Angel Shamblin has hit safely in her last three games ... With her walk in the fifth inning, Courtney Spittler has reached base in four of her last five games.