LaTech’s win likely cost Hawaii NCAA bid
Louisiana Tech's big victory over Nevada yesterday was an equally huge loss for the Hawaii softball team.
The surprising Bulldogs captured the automatic bid to the NCAA Regionals this week by ousting Nevada 2-1 yesterday at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium to go unbeaten in the Western Athletic Conference tournament. Fourth-seeded LaTech began its unlikely run by knocking off host Hawaii last Wednesday night.
The tournament begins Friday at 16 regional sites.
LaTech is in. No. 17 Nevada (42-16), the regular-season WAC champion, should be included in the NCAA tournament field announced today. Perennial power and 10th-ranked Fresno State (51-11), should also receive at at-large bid.
In this scenario, Hawaii (38-19) is the odd team out, leaving a bitter taste in head coach Bob Coolen's mouth. The Rainbow Wahine were two outs away from advancing to the WAC tournament final on Friday night, only to see the Wolf Pack steal a 2-1 win in the bottom of the seventh.
In yesterday's game, Nevada managed 10 hits, but left nine runners on base. Louisiana Tech led 1-0 after five and a half innings but Nevada rallied to tie it in the bottom of the sixth. The Lady Techsters took the lead in the top of the seventh with a solo homer by pitcher Krissi Oliver.
Nevada had some chances in the middle of the game as the Wolf Pack put the first two batters on base in the third inning and the leadoff batter on in the fourth.
But neither threat led to any runs.
In the fifth, Danille Patrick and Tyler Schafer reached on singles. After Noelle Micka flied out and Brittany Puzey struck out, Vanessa Briones lined a ball to right field. Wolf Pack pinch runner Kristin Stith appeared to beat the throw to the plate but home plate umpire Steve Arnold called Stith out, ending the Nevada threat.
The tournament MVP was Oliver. Her seventh home run of the season in the seventh proved to be the difference.
LaTech had four named to the all-tournament team. Hawaii had three in Kate Robinson, Richie-Ann Ticomb and Audrey Andrade.