AUSTIN - The Bearkats did it again in Bearkat fashion.
Junior Tiffany Thompson hit the go-ahead home run in the sixth inning and senior Lindsey McLeod tossed six shutout innings as Sam Houston State stunned No. 9 Texas 2-1 in the opening game of the NCAA Tournament’s Austin Regional Friday at Red and Susan McCombs Stadium.
“We are just excited for the way we fought and for the way we continued to stick with what we have done all year, which is attack the strike zone and play defense and hang around and have a chance to win the game at the end,” head coach Garrett Valis said. “Obviously that is the way it turned out. Texas did not go down without a fight. That’s a really good team on the other side, and it will continue to be a challenging weekend for us.”
It is the Bearkats’ second regional victory in school history. Sam Houston State knocked off Louisiana-Lafayette 2-1 in an elimination game in the College Station Regional in 2007, the program’s only other NCAA Tournament appearance since moving up to Division I in 1988.
Sam Houston State (35-21) advances to the winners’ bracket to face Houston, which beat Texas A&M 3-1 Friday, Saturday at 1 p.m., weather permitting.
The Bearkats fell behind the Longhorns (41-15) in the fourth inning. With one out, sophomore Mary Iakopo launched her team-leading 10th home run of the season over the wall in left field.
As they have done numerous times during their run to the postseason, Sam Houston State rallied from behind.
Thompson’s blast came after junior Megan McDonald reached on an error in the top of the sixth with one out. Texas pulled starting pitcher Brooke Bolinger, who had only allowed three baserunners but fell to 9-5 on the season, for Shea O’Leary.
Thompson greeted the All-Big 12 second-team pitcher with a towering shot off the camera platform to the right of the scoreboard in center field, her seventh home run of the season, to give Sam Houston State a 2-1 lead.
“I was down in the count, and I just really wanted to move the runner,” Thompson said. “I just saw a good pitch and put a really good swing on it. It felt really good, but we have been hitting some really good balls and they hadn’t quite made it out, so I wasn’t quite sure but it felt really good when it left.”
McLeod allowed two runners to reach in the bottom of the sixth but kept Texas off the scoreboard with a shutdown inning. She pitched a perfect seventh to improve to 22-8 on the season.
O’Leary took the loss to fall to 13-2.