OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – Texas Tech softball closed its season with a 1-0 shutout victory over Iowa State Saturday in its final game of the 2017 Big 12 Championship at OGE Energy Field inside ASA Hall of Fame Stadium Complex.
Senior Kierra Miles recorded another milestone, finishing her career with a two-hit performance, and junior Kaylee Strickland scored the game's only run, but pitching and defense were the story for the Red Raiders Saturday. Iowa State would load the bases in the second, fourth and seventh innings before Tech shut the door on the Cyclone offense to earn its fifth shutout win of the season.
"That was maybe the first time this season we've held someone in a difficult situation," head coach Adrian Gregory said. "We needed a last stand, and we stood. I'm happy for our senior class. They have fought some hard battles, and they kept fighting."
Junior Cheyene Powell is credited with the win, surrendering just three hits and two walks in four innings of relief. Senior Mattison Maisel was solid in her start, going three innings and giving up just three hits and two walks as well.
"Cheyene Powell did a great job to get us some ground balls, and get us a pop-up towards the end," Gregory said of her junior pitcher. "Susan Welborn struggles with that (foul pop-up), and she found it and caught it. It's about will. I hope our young kids understand will. Shear will can get you through a whole lot."
The Red Raiders got creative to manufacture the game's only run in the second inning. Senior Brittany Warnecke, who later recorded the final out of the game at shortstop, led off with a single before Strickland came on to run. A sac bunt by senior Ashley Fultz and a single from sophomore Kiana Workman put runners on the corners. With two outs, Gregory put the double steal into action and Strickland beat the throw home to give Tech the deciding run.
Miles set the tone early, blasting the first pitch of the game off the wall in right field for a double and later moved into a tie for second place on the school's all-time hits list with a single in the seventh. Miles reached base in all three games this weekend while hitting .333 to put a stamp on a career that is among the all-time Red Raider greats. She is among the program's top three in career hits, runs, RBI and home runs.
"I can not talk enough about Kierra Miles," Gregory said. "Early on in her career she worked so hard, was so dedicated and always there early trying to do extra. She has a major in social work that makes her miss a lot of practice for school, but she just does what it takes. If we say move up, she's in the front. If we say go, she goes. She just goes all out no matter what. I want young people to know that's how you play the game. If you go all out, no matter what, take all the risks, then you get rewarded, and that's Kierra's season. She deserves all the accolades."
With the win, No. 6-seeded Texas Tech earns a fifth-place finish at the Big 12 Championship after dropping a pair of games in pool play Friday to No. 4 Texas and No. 1 Oklahoma. The Red Raiders swept the Cyclones, 4-0, during the 2017 campaign and wrap up the season 19-36 overall with a 4-14 Big 12 mark.
• The Red Raiders swept Iowa State 4-0 this season.
• The win moves Tech to 13-22 all-time at the Big 12 Championships and 2-1 against Iowa State.
• Tech moves to 6-18 as the lower seed.
• Texas Tech has won at least one game in nine of the previous 16 Big 12 Championships, including in four of the last five.
• Head coach Adrian Gregory earns her first win at the Big 12 Championship.
• The 1-0 victory is Tech's only of the season and its third all-time at the Big 12 Championship.
• The Red Raiders improve to 2-19 when scoring 0-2 runs this season and 5-8 in one-run games.
• Sophomore Jessica Hartwell reached base safely in all three games in Oklahoma City and has recorded a hit in 10 of the last 13 games overall.