CANYON, Texas –- The No. 3 Lady Buffs of West Texas A&M used a three RBI performance by sophomore outfielder Renee Erwin to outlast the TexAnns of Tarleton State 5-4 in front of more than 200 fans at Schaeffer Park in Canyon, Texas, in the Lone Star Conference opener on Friday night. The Lady Buffs move to 17-1 (1-0 LSC) while Tarleton State falls to 17-9 (0-1 LSC) on the season.
“It’s always nice to start out conference play with a win against a good team,” WT head coach Kevin Blaskowski said. “There’s no one that I want at the plate in the bottom of the sixth more than Meghan [Slattery] in the situation that extended the lead, she’s a leader in our program and she has proved for four years that she can step up in big situations.”
The Lady Buffs started off the scoring in the bottom of the first inning as Renee Erwin drove the first pitch she saw to straightaway center field for a two run bomb to drive in Mallory Wyatt for the early 2-0 WT lead after one complete inning of play.
The next three innings became a pitcher’s duel as TSU’s Randi Fentress and WT’s Hannah Newcomb moved the game into the fifth inning with the Lady Buffs remaining in the lead, 2-0.
The TexAnns registered their first hit of the game in the top of the fifth inning on a leadoff double off the left center field wall by Kelsey Latta but a hard slide into second base forced the sophomore out of the game, Fentress helped out her own cause with a double off the left field wall to give TSU runners at second and third with no outs. Newcomb responded with a popout in foul territory but Arianna Gonzalez two RBI triple followed by another TexAnn run that scored on a wild pitch for the 3-2 lead.
The Lady Buffs retook the lead in the bottom of the fifth inning on an Erwin doubled home Lemos from second base followed by an Allie Cranfill double down the left field line to give WT the 4-3 lead after five innings. The two teams headed for the confines of the dugouts as a nearby lightning strike forced a delay in the game in the top of the sixth inning.
Lauren Heinrich stepped into the game and got out of a jam in the top of the sixth inning with two outs and a runner on as Erwin snagged a ball in right field, WT added to their lead in the bottom of the sixth inning as Meghan Slattery singled home Lacey Seidl from second base for the 5-3 win.
The TexAnns threatened in the top of the seventh inning with two runners on and two outs with an RBI single by Courtney Vroman cut the WT lead to 5-4 followed by a hit batter to load the bases but Heinrich shut the door with a groundout to first base to end the game.
Hannah Newcomb picked up the win in the circle (5-0) for the Lady Buffs, giving up three runs on four hits with one walk and four strikeouts. Heinrich picked up the save (2), giving up one run on one hit with two walks and two strikeouts in her 2.0 inning out of the bullpen.