Texas Tech softball hangs on to close regular season - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Texas Tech softball hangs on to close regular season with 2-1 victory

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Provided by Texas Tech Athletics

LUBBOCK, Texas – Texas Tech scored two runs over the first two frames and Cara Custer kept the Oklahoma State bats at bay long enough for the 24th-ranked Red Raiders to close the regular season with a 2-1 victory Monday at Rocky Johnson Field.

The win helped Tech (40-15; 13-10) claim its fourth Big 12 series of the year while also reaching the 40-win mark for the second-straight season and the third time in program history.

The Red Raiders can now finish no worse than fifth in the conference standings, which marks the school's highest finish since tying for third in 2001.

"I just expected to have a good team this year," Tech head coach Shanon Hays said. "I didn't think about numbers exactly because our schedule was so much better than it's been the last two years. We played good teams all the way through and that's why we have such a good RPI. To be on the plus side of the Big 12, it feels really good."

Unlike its Saturday outing against OSU starter Kat Espinosa, Tech jumped on the right-hander early as Adriana Perez hit a sacrifice fly to right field in the first that scored Logan Hall.

Espinosa, who shut out the Red Raiders in the opener, gave up her final run an inning later when Raven Richardson dropped a single into right field to score pinch runner Kermitria Ward.

Ward used her speed to frustrate the Cowgirls through most of the middle innings as the sophomore had a season-high two stolen bases. She set up Richardson by swiping second base and then moved to third on a Taylor Woodall throwing error from the plate.

Richardson's single was one of only three hits against Espinosa (15-11), who struck out two and walked three in the complete-game effort. Mikey Kenney had a one-out single in the first to help spark the early run while Katelyn Williams had a two-out single up the middle in the sixth.

Even with less than staggering numbers at the plate, Custer (25-10) was effective in keeping the Cowgirls off the scoreboard as the freshman worked around five hits and six walks to give up only a run with nine runners left on base.

Her only blemish was a two-out RBI single from Chelsea Garcia in the fifth that was just far enough to Richardson's right to keep Tech from getting out of the inning. The Cowgirls had previously loaded the bases in the third, only for Custer to get out of the jam by forcing Garcia to fly out to Ashley Hamada in right.

The complete game was the 17th of the season for Custer, who helped Tech improve to 72-2 under Hays when taking a lead into the seventh inning.

The Red Raiders will now await their postseason fate as the NCAA Selection show airs at 9 p.m. CT Sunday evening on ESPNU. Tech will be looking for its third-straight regional appearance and fifth trip in school history.

GAME NOTES

THE OKLAHOMA STATE SERIES

• Despite the win, Texas Tech still trails Oklahoma State, 27-14, all-time in the series, including a 12-8 mark when playing in Lubbock.

• The series win marks Tech's second-straight over the Cowgirls when playing in Lubbock. The Red Raiders swept the 2010 two-game series when Oklahoma State was ranked No. 7 in the country.

• Tech's two runs in the game marked its fewest in a win over Oklahoma State since taking a 1-0 victory on April 7, 2002 when playing in Lubbock.

• Tech head coach Shanon Hays is now 4-3 all-time against Oklahoma State with the win.

TEXAS TECH TEAM NOTES

• With the win, Tech can end the year no worse than fifth place in the Big 12 standings, which marks the program's best overall finish since tying for third in 2001.

• The Red Raiders finished 13-10 in Big 12 play, marking the program's first winning record since going 10-8 during the 2001 season. It also marked the most conference wins in school history.

• Tech reached the 40-win mark for the second-straight season and third time in program history as the Red Raiders went 42-16 a year ago and then 45-19 in 1998.

• The series win marked Tech's fourth during Big 12 play this year as the Red Raiders also swept Iowa State before taking two-of-three from both No. 9 Missouri and No. 25 Baylor.

• Tech will enter the postseason coming off a win for the first time in program history as the Red Raiders lost the game before starting the 1999, 2001, 2010, and 2011 regionals.

• Tech's three hits in the game were its fewest in a win since taking a 3-1 victory in the series opener over Baylor on April 20.

• The Red Raiders improved to 72-2 all-time under head coach Shanon Hays when taking a lead into the seventh inning.

• Tech improved to 26-2 on the year and 6-1 during Big 12 play when holding its opponent to two or less runs.

• Oklahoma State did not hit a home run the entire series. The Red Raiders are now 26-7 overall and 7-4 in Big 12 play when their opponents are unable to hit a home run.

• The Red Raiders scored in the opening inning for the 24th time this season as Tech is now 20-4 overall and 6-2 during Big 12 play when doing so.

• Tech also improved to 7-2 during series finales and 5-2 during league play.

• The game marked just the third time Tech had played on a Monday this year. Tech won both of its prior games which came in a March 12 doubleheader sweep of then-No. 23 New Mexico.

CARA CUSTER

• Custer tossed her 17th complete game of the season to improve to 25-10 on the year and 10-7 during Big 12 play.

• Her 17 complete games on the year move her into sole possession of seventh in the Tech single-season record book, passing Ashly Jacobs (2007) and Emily Hayes (1999) who both had 16.

• She also became just the third Tech pitcher in school history to reach 200 innings in a single season, joining Amanda Renfro who did it over all four seasons from 1998-2001 and Ashly Jacobs who did so in 2007.

ADRIANA PEREZ

• Perez' sacrifice fly in the first marked her 55th RBI of the year, moving her into a tie with Logan Hall and Cydney Allen for third in the Tech single-season record book. Both Hall and Allen totaled 55 RBI during their 2011 junior season.

EMILY BLEDSOE

• Bledsoe was plunked for her Big 12-leading 14th time of the season and second time in the series to lead off the first inning. No Tech player had been hit 10 or more times previously since Robyn Wike was hit 16 times during the 2007 season.

KERMITRIA WARD

• Ward swiped a career-high two stolen bases in the game as she took second in both the second and fourth innings. She is now 11-for-12 in stolen base attempts this season.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E

Oklahoma St. 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 5 2

#24 Texas Tech 1 1 0 0 0 0 X 2 3 1

WP – Custer (25-10) LP - Espinosa (15-11) SV – None

--TECH--

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