NCAA Tournament: Houston Falls to No. 25/22 Oklahoma State in Game One, 3-0
May 27, 2011
HOUSTON - The University of Houston softball team racked up 10 hits at the NCAA Stillwater Super Regional opener on Friday night at Cowgirl Softball Stadium, but fell to the No. 25/22 Oklahoma State, 3-0.
In the team's second Super Regional in program history, Houston (43-17) shouldered several changes to the norm as they opened play in Stillwater, Okla. Game one marked only the 11th night game of the season, the first televised game of the year and the team's first trip to Oklahoma State.
What didn't change was for the fourth time in four NCAA Tournament games this season, Houston out hit its opponent, recording at least one hit in every inning but one. The biggest difference about Friday night, however, was Houston's inability to turn those hits into runs after recording 10 hits to OSU's six.
"I was really pleased with Oklahoma State with hosting such a good thing, so thank you to them for that. They've done a great job," Holas said. "As far as our performance, I think it comes down to timely hitting. Ten hits should put more runs on the board and hopefully tomorrow that's going to be the difference."
It also marked the first time senior Amanda Crabtree (21-9) faced the team she played for during her freshman season. Three years after transferring, the Cougar senior said she regarded facing OSU just like any other team she's faced with friends on the roster.
Playing in front of a sold-out crowd, Crabtree threw two innings, allowing one run and striking out two before being replaced by freshman Diedre Outon. Outon surrendered her first earned run in her last six outings, she was charged with a pair in her 4.0 innings of relief work.
Sophomore shortstop Brooke Lathan posted her first multi-hit game since April 22 to lead the Cougars at the plate. Her 3-for-3 performance tied a career high for hits in a game, and she also cranked out her team-leading 11th double.
Sophomore third baseman Holly Anderson also recorded a multi-hit game, her second of the NCAA Tournament.
Houston's hitters got to work early on OSU starter Kat Espinosa (23-7) as Anderson and junior left fielder Melissa Gregson each tagged solid base hits in the opening frame, but neither came home to score.
In the other dugout, the Cowgirls also were able to get an early rally going, but the home team was able to scratch one across off of Crabtree. All-Big 12 First Team third baseman Mariah Gearhart beat out a bunt to lead off the bottom of the first with a bunt single. A sac bunt moved her to second before first baseman Julie Ward drove a hard-hit double to right center, bringing home Gearhart.
The first-inning run gave the Cowgirls the 1-0 lead, the first deficit Houston has faced in the NCAA Tournament.
Lathan kicked off the Cougars' next at bat by crushing a double down the left field line. It appeared as if Houston's lineup would tie it up in its next opportunity when freshman first baseman Stesha Brazil lined out toright field to give Lathan room to get to third. A ground out ended the threat, however, with Lathan stranded on third.
After Espinosa got the Cougars to go down in order in the top of the third, Holas decided to make a change before the Cowgirls came up in the bottom half of the inning. Freshman Diedre Outon took over for Crabtree in the circle, and tossed a 1-2-3 inning in her first appearance since the Austin Regional opener.
Outon ran into trouble in OSU's next trip to the plate. Second baseman Alysia Hamilton started the Cowgirls' fourth-inning rally with a single up the middle. Despite Lathan's diving stop at short, Ward was able to beat out the throw for her second hit of the day. Catcher Ashley Boyd drove in the nail when she sent a sharp line drive just out of Cougar centerfielder Ashleigh Jones' reach for a two-run double.
Just the fourth double Outon has surrendered in her career, Boyd gave the home team the 3-0 advantage, the largest deficit Houston has seen since falling to Texas State more than a month ago.
For the second time in five innings, the Cougars used a pair of hits to spark the offense. In the top of the fifth, it was Brazil and Jones who teamed up to start the rally. Brazil used a throwing error to bust it to second base. Jones slapped a single and took off for second on the throw to third base, putting runners on second and third with no one out. The rally stopped there as Espinosa got a ground ball and two pop outs to end the inning.
Lathan drilled her third hit of the game with two outs against her in the top of the third and C-USA All-Freshman catcher Haley Outon followed her with a hit of her own, but again the Cougars couldn't bring them home. They left 10 runners on base Friday night.
Unwilling to fall without a fight, senior right fielder Katy Beth Sherman connected on a one-out single to kick off the top of the seventh. Anderson's base hit in the next at bat ended Espinosa's outing for senior reliever Sarah Odom. Odom collected the next two outs, however, to close out the game with her third save of the season.