Smart's Three-Run Home Run Gives Tulsa 3-0 C-USA Championship Game Win over Herd

May 13, 2006

Box Score

TULSA, Okla. - Brooke Smart's three-run, walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh inning gave the top-seeded Tulsa Golden Hurricane a 3-0 win over the Marshall Thundering Herd in the Conference USA Softball Championship game Saturday.

Tulsa (34-22), the C-USA regular season champion, earned the conference's NCAA automatic bid. Marshall (33-23) will now await its postseason fate Sunday during the NCAA Selection Show, which will be aired at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) on ESPNews. NCAA Regional competition will begin Friday, May 19.

Senior Veronica Ralston (Tucson, Ariz./Catalina Foothills) was the hard-luck loser, allowing three runs on three hits in 3 2/3 innings of relief. Ralston (13-14) walked three on the afternoon.

Tulsa's Julie Fennell (13-8) was the victorious pitcher, scattering four hits in a complete-game shutout. Fennell struck out four batters, earning her second victory against the Herd this season.

The Herd landed four players on the All-Tournament team - Rachel Folden (Baldwin Park, Calif./Diamond Bar), Leigh Wintter (Acworth, Ga./North Cobb), Ashley Mitchell (Kennesaw, Ga./Harrison) and Abigail Harter (Monmouth, Ore./Santiam Christian).

Four different players recorded a hit for the Herd, while five different players registered a hit for the Golden Hurricane. Brooke Smart went 2-for-4 with her three-run home run, while Julie Shafer went 2-for-3.

Marshall strung together back-to-back scoring threats in the championship game's opening two innings. In the first inning, Amanda Williams (Powder Springs, Ga./Harrison) and Mitchell reached base on consecutive singles. However, Fennell retired the next three Herd batters in order to end the inning.



Deanna Tourville (Rescue, Calif./Ponderosa), the hero in Friday afternoon's semifinal game with Tulsa, led off the second inning with an infield single. She later advanced to second on an illegal pitch. But, the outcome was much like the first inning, as Fennell retired the next three batters to avoid the jam.

Harter, the Herd's starting pitcher, was pulled after three complete innings in favor of Ralston. Harter scattered four hits in three innings and allowed only four runs in 17 innings of work over the weekend.

The Herd's defense continued to shine behind Ralston. After Ralston retired the Tulsa side in order in the fourth, she got into a bit of trouble in the fifth. With two on and two out, Brooke Smart lined into a double play to Tourville, ending Tulsa's scoring threat.

The Herd suffered a scare in the top of the sixth inning. With two outs, Jessica Williams (Powder Springs, Ga./Harrison) was thrown out attempting to steal second base. Tulsa shortstop Kelli McGlasson appeared to have stepped on Williams' non-throwing hand on the play. However, Williams received medical attention and re-entered the game in the bottom half of the inning.

The injury scare didn't seem to faze Williams as she accounted for two of the three defensive outs in Tulsa's half of the sixth.

Tulsa finally struck in the bottom of the seventh to take the three-run championship game win. Jessica Barr drew a lead-off walk and later advanced to second on Angela Osborn's sacrifice bunt. Pinch hitter Lindsey Tower then singled through the left side, which put runners on the corners with one out.

After Lindsay Galloway grounded out to Ralston, Smart secured the championship with the three-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Tulsa 3, Marshall 0 (May 13, 2006 at Tulsa, Okla.)
Marshall............ 000 000 0 -  0  4  0      (33-23)
Tulsa............... 000 000 3 -  3  7  1      (34-22)
Pitchers: Marshall - Abigail Harter; Veronica Ralston(4). Tulsa - Julie Fennell.
Win-Julie Fennell(13-8)  Loss-Veronica Ralston(13-14)  T-2:00  A-452