AUSTIN, TX - Haley Outon’s leadoff home run in the top of the fifth ignited a four-run rally as Houston erased a one-run deficit, and Bailey Watts threw shutout ball to record the save in a 7-5 defeat of Army (35-26) in an elimination game at the 2013 NCAA Austin Regional Tournament hosted by Texas at McCombs Field Saturday afternoon.
The Cougars (41-19) jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning on Holly Anderson’s RBI double chasing home leadoff batter Katie St. Pierre, who was hit by a pitch.
After stranding a runner at third base in the second inning, sophomore RHP Morgan Lashley (29-14) was touched for a pair of runs as Houston padded its lead to 3-0 in the third inning after capitalizing on two hits, a pair of walks and a sacrifice fly.
Army’s first opportunity to score came in the bottom of the third inning as the Black Knights took advantage of four hits, along with an error, to score four runs and pull ahead 4-3.
Bernadette Cardon drew a leadoff walk and moved to third when Ali Cleinmark reached on a fielding error by the second baseman for Army’s first scoring chance. Amanda Nguyen’s infield single drove in Cardon.
Christina McKone reached on a fielder’s choice with Nguyen moving to second and Cleinmark thrown out heading to third base. Kasey McCravey (2-for-4 with two runs scored) beat out an infield hit to load the base.
Senior co-captain Alex Reynolds’ bunt knocked in Nguyen along with chasing starter Summer Groholski as the Black Knights drew to 3-2 of the Cougars.
After Diedre Outon (13-8) took over the circle with bases loaded, Army tied the score 3-3 on April Ortenzo’s sac bunt that drove in McKone. Rae Anne Payleitner’s RBI single sent McCravey home for the go-ahead run (4-3) before Outon nipped Army’s rally as the Black Knights batted around in that inning.
Lashley worked her way out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the fourth when McCravey turned a double play, getting the force at third and throwing out the runner headed to first base.
Houston broke loose in the top of the fifth scoring four runs on five hits with the other half of the Outon twins, Haley, helping her sister’s cause with a leadoff homer that tied the game and ignited the Cougars rally as three of their five hits went for extra bases. Jaime Edwards drove in the tie-breaking run with Julia Pecina’s RBI triple and Katie St. Pierre’s single providing insurance runs as Houston pulled out to a 7-4 lead.
Army was not done yet as the Black Knights scored a run in the bottom of the fifth when Reynolds’ grounder was misplaced by the shortstop and drove in McCravey, who ripped a one-out double and moved to third on a wild pitch. Diedre Outon stranded runners at first and second.
The Black Knights opened the sixth with three straight hits by Cardon, Cleinmark and Nguyen to chase Outon. Watts took over the circle and retired the side on back-to-back strikeouts and a flyout in getting out of the bases-loaded jam.
Army challenged again in the seventh with April Ortenzo leading off with a single up the middle and moving around on a fielder’s choice and single by Marina Northup. With runners in the corners, Watts got out on a strikeout and groundout as Houston takes on South Carolina, who fell to No. 4 Texas, 11-2 (five), in another elimination game later in the day.
The Black Knights collected 10 hits off three pitchers with Nguyen and McCravey with two and Reynolds with two RBI in tying her school single-season record with 45.