After winning their first Lone Star Conference title last week, the TWU Pioneers added to their trophy case on Sunday in Canyon by defeating West Texas A&M 7-2 to win their first LSC tournament championship.
The victory gives the Pioneers an automatic bid in the NCAA tournament. The top two seeds in today’s South Central Regional rankings will play host to the two regional tournaments this week. TWU was ranked No. 1 in last week’s rankings.
The Pioneers fell behind early after West Texas A&M scored a run in the first and a run in the second to take a 2-0 lead. Senior Larisa Garcia came in relief and threw 5 1/3 shutout innings while holding the Lady Buffs to just two hits.
“I was really focused in changing the momentum going in,” Garcia said. “It was still early in the game, and we put together couple of rallies. We played great defense today and added two big insurance runs at the end.”
After going scoreless in the first three innings, the Pioneers scored four runs in the top of the fourth with two outs to take a 4-2 lead.
Sophomore Sarah Wittenburg and freshman Ashley Maddox hit back-to-back singles with two outs before junior Haley Colwell tripled to right center, scoring Wittenburg and pinch runner Meghan Schoenherr. Junior Bailey Vrazle followed with a single up the middle to drive in the third run, and junior Amanda Ruiz brought home the fourth run with single through the left side.
TWU (46-12) added a run in the fifth to make it 5-2, as Colwell drew a base-loaded walk for her third RBI of the game, scoring pinch runner junior Meghan Leff.
The Pioneers then added two more runs in the seventh. Senior Jordan Readicker led off the inning with her 20th home run of the season, while Wittenburg hit her first homer of the season to deep center.
Garcia recorded three straight outs in the bottom of the seventh to give the Pioneers their first postseason title.
“It sounds like a broken record, but it starts with pitching,” TWU head coach Richie Bruister said. “Larisa came in and threw phenomenal for us in front a big crowd. She kept us in the ball game and gave our offense confidence. We scored some runs to take the lead and Jordan and Sarah hit big home runs at the end. It’s a great way to end the tournament.”
Colwell, Hines, Ruiz and sophomore Kendra Sancet were selected to the all-tournament team, while Garcia was named the MVP.
The TWU athletic department will play host to a regional selection watch party today from 9 to 10:30 a.m. The party will take place in the newly renovated lobby of the athletics offices in Pioneer Hall, Suite 220.