The TWU Pioneers know they need to score more runs today if they are going to hang with Midwestern State.
Yet, in their opening game of the NCAA South Central Regional 1 tournament at Pioneer Field on Friday, senior Jordan Readicker played a familiar tune for the Pioneers, using her confidence and comfort against Incarnate Word pitcher Briana Sanchez to smack the game-winning home run in the fourth inning to secure the Pioneers’ 2-1 victory.
“I would say a lot of us knew what we were coming into having faced her [Sanchez] two out of the three games we’ve played them,” Readicker said. “This team can hit any pitcher that is faced against us. We did a good job getting runners on base, but we didn’t do as good as job as we should have getting them in.”
Tying a school record in wins, the Pioneers (47-12) advanced to the winner’s bracket to face Midwestern State (43-15), the Lone Star Conference’s top offensive squad in runs scored and RBIs. MSU defeated No. 25 St. Mary’s 4-0 on Friday with a four-run seventh inning.
“The first one [victory] is always the toughest one,” TWU head coach Richie Bruister said. “You’ve got a lot of nerves and a lot of excitement. There are a lot of things going on with your mind. To get a win, it doesn’t matter how you get it, as long as you get it, that’s great. Two runs won’t win the ball game tomorrow. We face Midwestern [State], they’re a great offensive team. We’ve got to match them hit for hit and pitch for pitch.”
Larisa Garcia started the game for the Pioneers, picking up her 16th win of the season, allowing six hits and one run with two strikeouts and three walks.
TWU took the 1-0 lead in the second inning after Haley Colwell’s RBI bloop single into center field scored Kendra Sancet, who was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning.
The Cardinals tied the game at 1 in the fourth inning with a no-out, bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Whitney Waltrip, but Garcia and the Pioneers’ defense, which was forced to make several, spectacular infield defensive plays, was able to get out of the inning yielding just the single run.
“We played great defense and great pitching,” Bruister said. “I’ve said all year long, it starts with our pitching staff, and we got some tremendous defensive plays that gave our bats a chance.”
Then, in the bottom of the fourth, Readicker delivered her 21st home run of the season and the only extra base hit by either team, over the right-field fence for the 2-1 edge.
Incarnate Word (30-25) threatened in their final opportunity in the seventh inning with two singles up the middle off Garcia to start the inning that chased her from the game in favor of Brandie Lander. However, the Cardinals couldn’t keep up with Lander’s heat as she struck out two of the final three batters to end the game and claim her fourth save of the season.
“That was a big spot,” Bruister said. “She loves the big games and we know that when we put her in that she’s going to get the job done. Larisa pitched a great game, mixed her speeds up and kept it close for us the whole time. She gave up some seeing-eye singles in the seventh and it was time to get Brandie.”
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873 and via Twitter at @PatrickHayslip.
TWU 2, Incarnate Word 1
Incarnate Word 000 100 0 — 1 6 0
TWU 010 100 x — 2 7 0
WP — Larisa Garcia (16-1). LP — Briana Sanchez (17-13). S — Brandie Lander. HR — T: Jordan Readicker.