FEBRUARY 27 GAME NOTES
CATHEDRAL CITY CLASSIC
No. 8 Texas Softball shuts out No. 22 Nebraska, 3-0 Rachel Fox allowed just three hits in throwing a shutout Sunday as the No. 8 Texas Longhorns defeated the No. 22 Nebraska Cornhuskers, 3-0, to conclude play at the Cathedral City Classic. The Longhorns finished the tournament with a 4-1 record with the lone loss coming against No. 1 Florida on Friday. All three runs by Texas (12-1) came in the sixth inning as the Longhorns improved to 4-1 this season against Top 25 opponents. Fox (3-0) walked three and struck out four as she finished the tournament with a 2-0 record and 0.81 ERA. She allowed just two earned runs in 17 1/3 innings with four walks and 12 strikeouts.
Meghan Lamberth, Wildcats Cage No. 11 Tigers, 7-1
Junior holds Missouri at bay to make early offensive outburst stand up
CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif. — Northwestern felt right at home in the friendly
confines of Cathedral City’s Big League Dreams Wrigley Field Sunday morning,
pouncing early on No. 11 Missouri before riding a fantastic effort from junior
Meghan Lamberth (Wildwood, Mo./Lafayette) in the circle to a 7-1 getaway day
victory. Northwestern improves to 5-8 overall on the season with its win while the
11th-ranked Tigers fall to 5-3 with the loss. The game was Northwestern’s eighth
against a team ranked in one of the top 25 polls at the time of the contest. NU also has defeated both current Big XII schools exiting that league for the SEC next season.
Lamberth allowed only a single run on a seventh-inning double play grounder,
scattering six hits and four walks while fanning a quartet to move to 2-2 on the
season. Northwestern wasted little time pouncing into the lead Sunday morning.
Emily Allard led off the game with a single through the middle. One out later, Adrienne Monka
reached on an error and gave way to pinch runner Lauren Ackerman. Marisa Bast put Northwestern up 3-0 with a tall home run, her fourth blast of the year and the ninth of her career.
After a 13-pitch, 1-2-3 bottom of the first inning from Lamberth, Anna Edwards joined the home run business with a solo shot to lead off the top of the second and extend the NU advantage to 4-0. Edwards now has two home runs this year, one against No. 1 Arizona State and the other versus the 11th-ranked Tigers. The inning continued with two-out singles from Allard and Kristin Scharkey before a walk to Monka loaded the bags. Bast then plowed a tough bounder toward third that the fielder knocked down but was unable to do anything with, resulting in an RBI single and a 5-0 score before the inning ended. Northwestern continued to add to its lead in the third. Edwards reached on a one-out error to begin the rally, moving to second when Paige drew a walk. Mari Majam hit a fielder’s choice that erased Tonz at second but moved Edwards to third,she came home on Allard’s third hit of the game. The throw to first on Allard’s ball bounced away, allowing Majam to move to third on the play. The two Wildcat speedsters then executed a picture-perfect double steal to tick NU’s edge up another notch to 7-0.
No. 6 Sooners Fall to No. 13 Georgia, 3-2
PALM SPRINGS, Calif. — No. 6 Oklahoma out hit No. 13 Georgia but was unable to defeat the Bulldogs, falling 3-2 Saturday to close out competition at Cathedral City Classic. The loss moved Oklahoma to 9-3 as Georgia improved to 12-2. The Sooners out hit the Bulldogs, 7-4, but experienced their first two-game losing streak since their sixth appearance in the Women’s College World Series last year . Two of Georgia’s four hits cleared the outfield fence in Palm Springs. Keilani Ricketts took the loss for the Sooners, moving to 4-3 on the season as she went all six innings for the Sooners. Ricketts hit double digits in strikeouts for the sixth time of the season and the second consecutive game by striking out 10 Bulldog batters. Oklahoma fell behind early for the second time in as many games as Georgia’s Paige Wilson sent a two-run home run over the right field fence. The shot over Erica Sampson’s head came after OU looked to put together a two-out rally in the top of the first. Ricketts doubled to left field before a Brittany Williams single put runners on the corners. An Allee Allen shot to the UGA shortstop however stopped Williams at second to end the Sooner threat.
Allen gave OU a runner on base with two outs again in the fourth, but another hit to the Bulldogs’ shortstop ended the Oklahoma threat as Destinee Martinez was thrown out at first. The Sooners looked to threaten again in the fifth inning when Kelley Reeves walked to start the inning before being replaced on the base path by Jessica Vest. A Javen Henson sacrifice bunt moved Vest to second before a Sampson ground out and a Chamberlain pop out in foul territory ended the inning. Ricketts helped her own cause at the plate in the top of the sixth with her first home run of the season as she sent a 1-0 pitch deep over the right field fence at the Wrigley Field themed park. Unlike in Chicago, the visiting team’s home run was not thrown back on the field as Ricketts and Callie Parsons, who was pinch running for Jessica Shults after a Shults’ single,came home for OU’s first runs of the game.
Georgia quickly responded in the bottom of the sixth as its leadoff batter, Ashley Razey, sent a 3-2 pitch over the left center fence for the game winner and a 3-2 UGA lead.
Consistency in hitting
Oklahoma did not hit timely or well against top pitching, six hits off Montemayor of Georgia, a game in which they stranded 8 runners; 3 hits off Stanford’s Gerhart, who has proven she can beat any team in the country; compared to 9 Sooner hits in a 9-0 rout of Boise State; 8 hits in the 5-0 win over SDSU. Washington hitters similarly suffered against Missouri’s Thomas, just as Texas struggled against Florida’s Rogers. After losing a slugfest to Cal Poly 14-7 – in which the Huskers had 12 hits, the Mustangs 11, Nebraska had the guns to hand Missouri a defeat; but couldn’t hit top pitching against Washington (Inglesby) or Texas (Fox).
As several coaches remarked to Spy, this tournament was a search for consistency – in all phases.
Fowler Precise in Arizona Wins
Kenzi Fowler, seeming fully recovered from a back injury, raised the Wildcats expectations for 2012 and helped improve its ranking in the polls with 4 strong appearances. Fowler yielded 2 hits in the 9-0 win over Fresno State; 2 hits in the 8-0 win over Oklahoma State; no hits in 2 innings in a save in the 3-2 win over Fordham; and 6 hits in the 5-0 win over Syracuse. Ashley Babcock, who carried the UofA load while Fowler was out, also had a good weekend; she took the loss in Arizona’s 3-0 loss to Georgia, but had the W against Fordham, and pitched a 2-hitter in the 4-0 win over Long Beach State.
Several freshmen had outstanding games. Arizona has five freshmen, and each played key roles in helping the Wildcats win 5 of 6: Chelsea Suitos; Hallie Wilson; Shelby Pendley; Chelsea Goodacre; and Sam Davis; Pendley has a big bat. Jolene Henderson and Valerie Arioto lead Cal pitching but Danielle Henderson is a solid anchor at 3rd; Cheyenne Cordes and Breana Kostreba also impressed. Florida has eight freshmen on the roster; Cheyenne Coyle is one of the best shortstops in D1, a cannon of an arm, and a bat to match;; Lauren Haeger wins in the circle, adds a dimension at 1st, and hits with authority; Sami Fagan also has a rocket arm, and is a very dependable leadoff; the Gators also get good performances from Jessica Damico; Kate Media; Chelsea Howell, Briana Little and Bailey Castro. Some players can take over a game; Corrin Genovese, who hit a 2-run shor in Missouri’s loss to Nebraska, showed off her fielding skills in the Tigers’ 2-0 upset of Washington – 4 searing throws from 3rd to 1st. She also drove in one run. Of the six freshmen on the Oklahoma roster, Lauren Chamberlain is the standout; a leadoff hitter with power, she is also a super glove at 3rd. Stanford has 9 freshmen; Nyree White has made her mark in the circle. Many freshmen played in the tournament, a number as starters, others in roles such as pinch-hitting and running, but gaining valuable experience before conference play begins; much needed, some teams are decidedly young. A tournament featuring 8 of the top 25 teams is year after year a prized proving ground.
Missouri Upsets Washington
Once ranked in the Top 10, the Tigers lost to Nebraska and Northwestern, but they racked one of the bigger upsets, 2-0 over the Huskies. Some fans sitting behind the press row wondered why Coach Tarr started Bryana Walker, her #2, against nationally-ranked Missouri, which was sure to start top star Chelsea Thomas. Actually, Walker needed the experience and pitched a good game, giving up just 4 hits. The problem was that the hard hitting Huskies couldn’t solve Thomas. The box score posted indicates Thomas threw a no-hitter, But, some watching the game thought Kimi Pohlman was safe at 1st on a bunt, not an error. The UW web site agrees Pohlman reached on an error by Stephens at 2nd. Pohlman was injured in the collision at 1st, and left the game; Kimi is one of the sparkplugs for the Huskies and we trust she is okay.
Florida 5, Texas 1
The Longhorns also surprised some observers by starting #2 Kim Bruins against #3 Florida, instead of ace Blaire Luna. But, as shown in the Horns win over Nebraska, a victory pitched by Rachel Fox, tournaments like the Cathedral City Classic are excellent opportunities to test your entire pitching corps. And, Bruins held her own, until the Gators broke a 1-1 tie, with 2 runs top 4th. Fox then relieved and was charged with the last 2 runs. Combined, they yielded 7 hits to the very young but potent Gators who got homers from Coyle and Gammel (one of two games in which this duo went yard). Texas racked 4 hits off ace Hannah Rogers but failed to take advantage of 2 Gator errors.
Those of us who witnessed the Bruins win consecutive World Series in the last decade were saddened to observe their current woes. To their credit, no team looked as bad as the Bruins when they were shellacked 13-4 Friday night by Georgia, but they played Texas close 5-4, actually outhitting the Horns 10-8 against Texas ace Luna; played even against Fresno State, losing on 3 runs in the 7th (6-3); actually led Missouri 3-2 after one, before losing when 7-5 time was called (travel); taking 8 hits off Thomas and stranding 6; and, finally, beating Syracuse 6-3 on Sunday. Struggling, but improving every game.
Personal highlight: sat at a window in the bar with one of the soccer world’s most famous coaches, Lindy Vivas, an 80s UCLA grad and close friend of Sue Enquist.
In 2005, long before many of these collegians entered highschool, Katie Cotta pitched the Arizona team to 2nd place in the ASA 2005 Gold nationals, and may well have won if she had not split the index finger on her pitching hand. Tommy Orndorff, whose Shamrocks won the title, has always said he was glad Katie’s team was in the other bracket. Katie has had an up and down college career, but she has another year of eligibility and is pitching for Concordia. It was a thrill for her many admirers to see her pitching against the NPF. Her breaking balls once again in the 60’s.
Watch for photos from Cathedral City by expert photographer Dennis Andersen.
OTHER TOURNAMENTS & GAMES
Becker Throws 13th No-Hitter In School History In 1-0 Loss to USF
CLEARWATER, Fla. – Thirteen proved to be the ultimate unlucky number Friday night at the Eddie C. Moore Softball Complex as Mississippi State pitcher Stephanie Becker threw the 13th no-hitter in school history, but suffered the loss in a 1-0 defeat to South Florida in the Bulldogs’ second game of the NFCA Leadoff Classic. State dropped to 7-3 on the year, while the host Bulls improved to 8-1. Becker pitched a masterpiece from start to finish, failing to yield a hit in her third complete game of the season. The junior struck out six and walked three in 95 pitches. The no-no was the first by a Bulldog since fellow junior Kylie Vry accomplished the feat on Feb. 14, 2010, vs. Stephen F. Austin, and was the 24th no-hitter by a Stuedeman-coached player. The only run of the game came in the top of the third, when USF leadoff hitter Kaitlyn Santo walked on a 3-1 count. Pinch running for Santo, Ilaura Reeves stole second on the first pitch to Alexis Nowell, who popped up to MSU first baseman Shelby Fisher. Gina Kafalas dribbled her first pitch to MSU sophomore third baseman Sam Lenahan, who threw the ball into Kafalas’ back at first for the throwing error. The ball ricocheted to right field, allowing Reeves to come from second to score the winning run.
LSU Wins 5 Games at Tiger Invitational, 4 by shutouts. Rachel Fico added two more shutouts to her ledger and claimed Tiger Invitational All-Tournament honors. The junior right-hander fired her third one-hitter of the season versus McNeese State. At one point, she sat down 19 consecutive batters and recorded six strikeouts. She followed that up and sprayed seven hits in a 1-0 shutout of South Alabama, a team that went 37-17 last season. Fico improved to 5-1 for the season and shaved her ERA to a paltry 0.37 ratio for the season.
E. RENFROE STRONG, GIBSON HOMERS AS #9 TENNESSEE SOFTBALL DEFEATS UMASS, 5-0 CLEARWATER, Fla. – On Sunday afternoon at the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Clearwater, Fla., the #9 Tennessee Lady Vol softball team (10-3) got another complete-game shutout effort from sophomore pitcher Ellen Renfroe and a three-run home run by junior second baseman Lauren Gibson in recording a 5-0 victory over Massachusetts. During the NFCA Leadoff Classic, Tennessee hit .338 as a team while posting a 4-1 record and out-scoring its five opponents by a total of 24-4.
Renfroe improved to a perfect 8-0 for the year by scattering five hits and striking out four over seven innings of work. The Jackson, Tenn., native completed the event with a 3-0 record, a 0.56 ERA and 25 K’s in 25 total frames. Gibson was a 2-for-2 with a steal against the Minutewomen while blasting her sixth HR of the season. Gibson lifted her season average to .405 and currently leads the Big Orange with 17 RBIs. Junior third baseman Raven Chavanne was 2-for-3 with two runs scored and two stolen bases, marking her fifth-straight game with at least two hits and boosting her overall average to a staggering .632 (12-for-19) following her initial weekend of play in 2012. Junior designated player Kat Dotson was 1-for-2 at the plate against UMass with an RBI single.