TEXAS-ARLINGTON USES SEVENTH INNING RALLY TO DEFEAT NICHOLLS STATE
May 3, 2003
NATCHITOCHES, La...The University of Texas at Arlington softball squad faced its toughest test of the 2003 Southland Conference postseason tournament Saturday evening as it matched the lone other unbeaten team in fifth seeded Nicholls State. A seventh inning two out walk off grand slam by freshman Autumn Petrino propelled the Lady Mavs past NSU, 7-4.
Two errors by the Lady Colonel defense allowed UTA to plate an unearned run in the bottom of the first inning and give the Lady Mavs an early 1-0 advantage. Falon Kwasnick reached first as the NSU shortstop misplayed the ball before being sacrificed to second by Melanie Williams. After a ground out by Petrino, Kwasnick beat the throw to home as the NSU first baseman mishandled a ball hit by Beverly Rowan.
The Lady Mavericks lead was short lived as Nicholls State put runners on first and second with one out in the top of the third frame. NSU shortstop LIndsey Yelverton followed with a shot over the left center field wall to put the Lady Colonels in front, 3-1.
UTA inched its way back in the bottom of the frame after back-to-back singles by Williams and Rowan put runners in scoring position with two outs. Williams would score easily as the NSU third baseman fielded a ball hit by Petrino and overthrew first base. Rowan rounded third on the same play and looked to beat the throw to the plate, but was called out as UTA could only manage one run in the inning.
After UTA starter Jill Garro gave up a four pitch lead off walk in the top of the fourth, head coach Debbie Nichols-Hedrick brought in Petrino. However, after walking the first batter she faced Petrino would be replaced by the Lady Mavericks ace Katy Cox. After inheriting runners on first and second with no outs, the Lady Colonels would score one run on back-to-back fielders choice balls before Cox retired the next three to escape the inning with little damage done.
Down by two runs in the bottom of the sixth, the Lady Mavericks time was running out. Petrino became the first runner in the frame after reaching on an error by the Lady Colonels first baseman. After Crystal Krebs was caught looking, Jenna Fortune knocked a two out double off the left center field wall and Petrino beat the throw to the home to put the Lady Mavs within one run. With Fortune on third UTA couldn't manage to tie the score, as NSU reliever Dione Meier got Stephanie Owens to hit a ground ball to first base and end the inning.
UTA had its chances in the bottom of the seventh after Kwasnick drew a two out walk to start the rally. Williams followed with a single through the gap before NSU reliever Meier hit Rowan to load the bases. With the Nicholls fans cheering for the final out, Petrino stepped to the plate and hit a walk off grand slam to give the Lady Mavs a 7-4 victory.
Cox picked up her third win of the tournament as she improves her record to 26-6 on the year. In 4.0 innings of relief, Cox struck out five, gave up one hit and walked one Lady Colonel batter.
Texas-Arlington returns to the Demon Diamond Sunday afternoon for the championship game at 1:30 p.m. UTA will face the winner of Nicholls State and Sam Houston State and will have to be beaten twice in order to be eliminated.