No. 16 Seed Texas A&M Hands Sacred Heart First Loss at NCAA Softball Regional
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College Station, TX -- The SHU softball team suffered a 10-2 setback versus host Texas A&M in the first round of the College Station Regional at the 2011 NCAA tournament. Texas A&M ran their home record to a perfect 23-0 this season in front of a crowd of 1,098 at the Aggie Softball Complex. Freshman Annie Dreher (Saugus, CA) was the biggest bright spot for the Pioneers in the loss, going 2-for-3 at the plate and driving in both SHU runs.
Texas A&M (42-13) was patient at the plate early, drawing three walks and loading the bases with just one out. Amber Garza delivered the first Aggie hit of the day with a grand slam over the right center field fence to make it 4-0 with one swing. SHU senior starter Jen Russell (Seymour, CT) would bear down and get out of the frame without any further damage.
Sacred Heart (29-20) got its first hit of the 2011 NCAA tournament as Dreher started the second inning with an infield single deep in the hole at shortstop. The Aggies added a marker in their half of the second to increase the margin to 5-0 heading into the third.
The Pioneers started the third inning with a leadoff walk from NEC player of the year Taylor Froelich (Garden Grove, CA) and a one-out single from Courtney Lee (Camarillo, CA). Liz Tsipouras (Simi Valley, CA) loaded the bases by drawing a walk in a grueling nine pitch at bat. Dreher insured that there would be no shutout in Texas, roping a two-run single down the left field line to cut the deficit to 5-2.
"As a freshman there was a lot of pressure and with the bases loaded I knew we really needed a hit," commented Dreher after the game. "I got a pitch inside and I was able to turn on it."
The Aggies answered right back and pushed across a pair of unearned runs in their half of the third. Texas A&M's first run of the inning came after a bunt attempt resulted in a throw into right field. The 16 seed in the region built its cushion back to five runs at 7-2 on a two-out RBI bunt single from Brittany Walker.
Sophomore Nicole Sidor (West Vancouver, BC) entered the game in relief to start the fourth inning. However, another SHU error would allow the Aggies to plate two more unearned runs and make it 9-2 A&M. Rhiannon Kliesing ended the game with a high fly ball that carried over the wall in right field for a solo homer that gave the Aggies the 10-2 victory via the run rule. Sidor finished the night with 2.1 innings of work and allowing just the one earned run and striking out one.
Melissa Dumezich picked up the win in the circle for Texas A&M, surrendering two runs on three hits. Lindsey Sisk tossed two perfect innings of relief to close out the game and send the Aggies into the winner's bracket of the regional.
The Pioneers will take on LSU in an elimination game Saturday afternoon at 4:00 pm CST Saturday afternoon. The Tigers fell to the Syracuse Orange 3-0 in 11 innings in the opening game of the College Station regional. Fans can follow all the action and get live updates through links available at www.sacredheartpioneers.com.