March 26, 2010
RUSTON - Freshman Meghan Knowles hit a three-run home run with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning to lift Louisiana Tech to a 6-4 come-from-behind victory over Utah State Friday night at the Lady Techster Softball Complex.
Knowles drilled the first pitch she saw from Aggies relief pitcher Shelbi Tyteca deep over the left field wall as Tech (13-9, 1-0) won its Western Athletic Conference opener while Utah State (11-12, 0-1) lost its fifth straight league opener.
"It was good to see Meghan come through in that situation," said Tech head coach Sarah Dawson. "I don't think we are ever asking them to walk up there and hit a home run, but she did. The best thing about her day was that she had two pretty tough at bats to begin the game and yet kept her head about her and came through. She had a nice at bat the third time up and drove in a run and I think that gave her some confidence in her last appearance."
Knowles home run - her second of the year - capped a late rally as the Lady Techsters trailed 4-0 through five innings of play before scoring three runs in the sixth and three more in the seventh.
Utah State pitcher Kate Greenough held Tech at bay until the sixth when Amberly Waits led the frame off with a double - her 234th career hit, tying her with Emma Barnes for the all-time Tech lead. After Jessica Kirby grounded out, Knowles singled to right center, plating Waits and cutting the USU lead to 4-1.
After Molly Goza grounded out for the second out of the frame, Heather Doiron laced a double off the bottom of the right centerfield fence, scoring pinch runner Kallan Thompson and cutting the deficit to 4-2. Senior Sarah Offutt then worked the count full before hitting a double off the bottom of the right centerfield fence, scoring Doiron and making the score 4-3.
Christina Gamboa then hit what appeared to be the game-tying single but USU second baseman Tina Ferguson made a running grab in shallow right center to end the frame.
Tech hurler Meghan Krieg then found herself in a jam in the top of the seventh inning as Utah State had runners on second and third with no outs. However, Krieg recorded her 12th and 13th strikeouts of the game before inducing a ground ball out to end the frame.
A pair of Tech errors combined with walks and a few timely Aggies hits off of Krieg gave Utah State an early 4-0 lead after two innings. However, Krieg settled down and allowed no runs over the final five innings.
"It is tough (on Meghan) when we come out of the gates not executing defensively," Dawson said. "Some of our games earlier this year Meghan fell victim to errors as our defense let her down and she let it affect her at times. It was nice to see her keep her composure and show some maturity tonight; we needed it. If she had lost her composure, we wouldn't have had a shot at coming back."
With Tech trailing 4-3 heading into the bottom of the seventh, Utah State made a pitching change as Greenough was relieved by Tyteca who promptly retired the first two batters she faced. Waits then drew a walk, stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch.
Kirby then fell behind in the count 0-2 before working a walk. Kirby appeared to have fouled out for the final out of the inning but defensive replacement first baseman Shasta Tyteca couldn't make the play as Kirby stayed alive and eventually drew a two-out walk, bringing up Knowles for the game-winning performance.
Krieg (9-8) picked up the win, allowing four runs - two earned - on six hits and five walks while striking out 13 batters. Krieg didn't allow a hit over the final three innings of work.
Waits, Doiron and Knowles each recorded two hits while Offutt added one hit.
Tyteca (1-1) picked up the loss in relief, allowing three earned runs on one hit and two walks in 0.2 innings of work.
The two teams return to the field for a 1 p.m. doubleheader on Saturday.