Posted: May 19, 2006
AMHERST, Mass. – It will go down as one of the biggest victories in school history. Lehigh picked up its first NCAA regional win in five years, shocking the tournament’s No. 13 seed Texas A&M 4-3 on a wet Friday at the UMass Softball Complex. The Mountain Hawks used a total team effort: clutch hitting, timely pitching and solid defense to pick up their school and Patriot League record 42nd win of the season, and move into the winner’s bracket where they will play host UMass on Saturday.
Lehigh refused to be intimidated by the highly touted Aggies, jumping on starter Amanda Scarborough for two runs in the top of the first inning. A double by Kate Marvel, a hit batsman in Lauren Haney, and a wild pitch put runners on second and third with one out. Junior Julie Sterrett laced an 0-2 pitch off the left field wall for a double that put the Brown and White up 2-0.
"Those runs gave us momentum," said Lehigh senior pitcher Kate Arico after the win. "[The runs] built confidence for us that we could stay with them throughout the game."
In the second inning the Mountain Hawks again put runners on base and after a passed ball, Scarborough threw her second wild pitch of the day to score senior Kate Arico and make it 3-0.
With one out in the fifth inning, Sterrett drilled her second double of the day to left field. Two batters later, sophomore Megan Conrad dunked a single down the left field line to make it 4-0 Lehigh.
In the pitcher’s circle, Arico cruised through the first five innings, allowing no runs on two base hits, striking out four and starting a nifty 1-6-3 double-play to end the fifth. In the sixth, the Aggies finally got to Arico, putting a run on the board with an infield single by Sharonda McDonald and a RBI double by Jaime Hinshaw. The ensuing batter, Megan Gibson drilled a home run to centerfield, to cut the Mountain Hawks’ lead to one. That blast was Gibson's 12th of the season.
In the seventh, Fran Troyan called on Patriot League Pitcher of the Year Lisa Sweeney to shut the door, and after a leadoff walk, Sweeney yielded a sacrifice bunt before striking out the final two batters to end the game.
Arico earns the win, allowing three runs in six innings, to improve to 14-6 on the season. Sweeney earns her fourth save. The loss drops Scarborough to 15-11.
Marvel went 3-for-4 at the plate with a double and a run scored. The Mountain Hawks (42-12) out-hit the Aggies 8-5.
"Kate [Arico] is an outstanding pitcher and obviously Lisa [Sweeney] was pitcher of the year in the [Patriot] League," said Lehigh head coach Fran Troyan. "We really thought after evaluating the Texas A&M hitters and learning what we could learn from them, we really thought that Kate could get us into the fifth or sixth inning if she pitched as well as she could possibly pitch which is really what happened today. And that’s because Kate does a very good job of changing speeds. The game plan going into it, was to try to get them to hit Kate’s pitches and to frustrate them a little bit."
Texas A&M (33-18) will play Albany in an elimination game Saturday at 2:30 pm. Earlier Friday, Massachusetts’ starter Brandice Balschmiter threw a no-hitter as the Minutewomen blanked Albany by a 2-0 score.
Lehigh also became the first Patriot League team to win their first-day NCAA regional game. The Mountain Hawks will take on host UMass Saturday at 12:00 pm. The game will be broadcast on 91.3 FM WLVR as well as online at Lehighsports.com with streaming powered by Yahoo! Sports. Coverage will get underway at 11:45 am.