Texas leans on Luna in Game 1
Pitcher struck out 10 in complete game as UT eased past Oregon
AUSTIN, Texas -- Junior All-America pitcher Blaire Luna went the distance and senior third baseman Nadia Taylor belted a three-run homer to lead sixth-seeded Texas to a 4-2 victory against No. 11 Oregon in the opening game of the Austin Super Regional on Friday night at Red and Charline McCombs Field.
With Friday’s win, the Longhorns (47-11) need just one victory on Saturday to advance to the Women’s College World Series. The Ducks (42-16) would need to defeat Texas twice on Saturday to advance to the WCWS.
Luna (22-5) earned the victory for Texas in the circle with her complete-game effort, surrendering two runs on seven hits while striking out 10 and walking four. Junior Jessica Moore (30-13) took the loss for the Ducks, tossing 5.0 innings and allowed four runs on eight hits while striking out three and walking none. Karissa Hovinga relieved Moore in the sixth and allowed just one hit and struck out one in her one inning of work.
Texas registered its 30th victory of the season at home, matching the program record of 30 wins set by the 2006 team.
After both pitchers controlled the action for the first three innings, Texas scored the first run of the contest in the bottom of the fourth. Courtney Craig led off the frame with a double off the wall in left center and advanced to third on a Karina Scott groundout. Torie Schmidt then brought home Craig with an RBI groundout to short.
The Longhorns added to their cushion with a two-out rally that produced three runs in the fifth. With two out and no runners on base, Taylor Hoagland and Lexy Bennett hit back-to-back singles to put runners on first and second. Taylor then hit a 1-1 pitch over the wall in left center for a three-run homer, her 11th of the season and 32nd of her career (tied for fifth in UT history), to give Texas a 4-0 lead. Taylor’s shot marked her fourth homer in six postseason contests this year.
Oregon answered with a single run in the sixth. With one out and no runners on base, Kailee Cuico launched a solo home run over the wall in left field for her 12th homer of the year to trim the margin to 4-1. Christie Nieto followed with a walk and advanced to third on a double off the wall in left field by Alexa Peterson. Luna got out of the jam by retiring Moore on a groundout to third and striking out pinch-hitter Liz Brenner.
Oregon mounted a two-out rally in the seventh, as back-to-back singles by Kaylan Howard and Kelsey Chambers put runners at first and second and brought the tying run to the plate. A wild pitch from Luna coupled with an error by second baseman Lexy Bennett, who dropped the ball while trying to tag out Chambers in a rundown, allowed Howard to come around from second to score and cut the lead to 4-2. After a walk to Cuico put runners on first and second, Luna got Nieto to ground out to first and close out the victory.