May 20, 2010

AUSTIN, Texas - Freshman pitcher Blaire Luna tossed a complete-game one-hit shutout and the No. 12 Texas softball team set a Big 12 Conference single-season team record for most home runs, as the Longhorns posted a 6-0 victory against Iona in the opening round of the NCAA Austin Regional on Thursday night at Red and Charline McCombs Field. Texas, the No. 7 national seed in the NCAA Tournament, improved to 43-13 overall, while Iona fell to 28-25.

With Thursday's win, Texas advances to Friday's winner's bracket game at 2:30 p.m. Central against BYU. Iona will play in an elimination game on Friday at 5 p.m. Central against East Carolina. BYU posted a 1-0 win against East Carolina in action earlier on Thursday.

Luna, the Big 12 Conference Pitcher and Freshman of the Year, improved to 30-8 on the season with her performance, adding 14 strikeouts against just one walk. Luna struck out at least two Iona batters in six of the seven frames, including the fifth inning when she struck out the side. Iona's lone hit came on a two-out single to right field by Chelsea Sheehan in the bottom of the third inning. The only other Iona batter to reach base was Marisa Newman, who led off the top of the seventh with a walk.

Sophomore Sarah Jackson (18-7) took the loss for the Gaels, allowing five runs on six hits while striking out three and walking three in 4.0 innings of work. Junior Alyssa Maiese pitched the final two frames for Iona, surrendering one run on two hits and striking out two.

Texas got on the board in the bottom of the second inning with a one-out solo home run by senior Loryn Johnson down the left field line. In the bottom of the third, the Longhorns used back-to-back solo homers from sophomore Courtney Craig and freshman Taylor Hoagland to extend their cushion to 3-0.

Craig deposited a 1-2 pitch over the center field wall for her 13th home run of the year, setting a UT single-season record for home runs. Hoagland followed by launching an 0-2 pitch over the fence in left center for her 11th homer of the year. Hoagland's long ball marked the 86th home run of the year for the Longhorns, setting a Big 12 single-season team record for most home runs. The previous league mark was 85, set by Oklahoma in 2000.

Texas closed out the scoring in the bottom of the fifth with three additional runs. Hoagland opened the frame with a double to left center, and Tallie Thrasher followed with a walk. Maiese replaced Jackson in the circle for the Gaels. After a strikeout by Amy Hooks, both runners advanced on a wild pitch by Maiese. Hoagland then came home on a passed ball to give the Horns a 4-0 lead. With Kori Cook (entered the game for Thrasher as a pinch-runner) at third after the passed ball, sophomore Nadia Taylor then launched a line drive over the wall in left center for her ninth home run of the season to extend the advantage to 6-0.

Hoagland went 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored, while Johnson went 2-for-3 with an RBI and one run scored to pace the Texas offense.

Post-Game Notes

  • Texas advances to Friday's winner's bracket game at 2:30 p.m. Central against BYU.
  • Iona will play in an elimination game on Friday at 5 p.m. Central against East Carolina.
  • Texas improved to 32-20 all-time in NCAA Tournament play (11 appearances). Iona played its first NCAA Tournament contest in school history.
  • Blaire Luna tossed her 27th complete game of the season and recorded her 11th complete-game shutout of the year. By comparison, former UT star Cat Osterman posted 26 complete games during her freshman year in 2002.
  • Luna's 14 strikeouts marked the 19th time this year that she has reached double digits in strikeouts.
  • Luna struck out at least two Iona batters in six of the seven frames, including the fifth inning when she struck out the side.
  • Loryn Johnson's solo home run in the bottom of the second inning was her fifth home run of the season and 30th of her career (third-best in UT history).
  • Courtney Craig's solo home run in the bottom of the third inning was her 13th of the season. This marks a UT single-season record for most home runs.
  • Taylor Hoagland's solo home run in the bottom of the third inning was the 86th home run of the year hit by the Longhorns. This marks a Big 12 single-season team record for most home runs (previous: 85 by Oklahoma in 2000). It was Hoagland's 11th home run of the season.
  • Nadia Taylor's two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth inning was her ninth of the season.
  • Iona's lone hit came on a two-out single to right field by Chelsea Sheehan in the bottom of the third inning. The only other Iona batter to reach base was Marisa Newman, who led off the top of the seventh with a walk.