May 20, 2006
AMHERST, Mass. - For the second time in as many days, Lehigh stunned No. 13 Texas A&M at the NCAA regional at the UMass Softball Complex. After winning their tournament opener over the Aggies 4-3 on Friday, the Mountain Hawks repeated the feat on Saturday coming from behind to win 4-3 and eliminate the Aggies from the Amherst regional. The win propels Lehigh into the championship round of the Amherst regional. The Mountain Hawks (44-13) will need to defeat host UMass twice on Sunday to win the region and advance to the super regionals.
Unlike Friday when Lehigh jumped on Texas A&M early, it was the Aggies scoring first in the rematch. Texas A&M capitalized on a pair of Lehigh errors to score twice in the third inning to take a 2-0 lead.
The Mountain Hawks remained resilient, as they were earlier in the day when they lost a 6-4 thriller to UMass in 10 innings. In the bottom of the fourth inning against A&M, junior Julie Sterrett tied the game with one swing of the bat, drilling a 3-2 Lisa Gorzycki offering over the centerfield wall to tie the game at two. The blast was Sterrett's seventh of the season, tying her with three others, including senior Mary Wieder for the Lehigh single season home run record.
"I just try to keep my focus in," said Sterrett who has drilled a number of two-strike hits in this regional. "I don't want to go back to the dugout and sit on the bench, so I try and take advantage of those opportunities."
Sterrett is now 5-for-12 in three games in the Amherst regional with three doubles, a home run and seven runs batted in.
The Aggies took the lead again in the fifth on a RBI single by Megan Gibson, but again Lehigh would claw back.
In the home half of the fifth, an error, a bunt single and a sacrifice placed runners on second and third with one out. Wieder tied the game with a single up the middle, scoring Kate Marvel, and then Sterrett struck again, with a sharply hit single off the glove of A&M shortstop Holly Ridley to drive home Megan Conrad with the go-ahead run.
After tossing, six innings to get the win on Friday, senior Kate Arico was just as good on Saturday. The senior tri-captain tossed a complete game allowing three runs, just one earned, while striking out three and walking one to improve to 15-6. Arico was helped out by a Lehigh defense that aside from three early errors was outstanding in the later innings. The Mountain Hawks got tremendous defensive plays from Wieder and Conrad in the seventh inning to close out the game.
"We came into this regional with the utmost respect for every team in the region and we still do respect them," said Lehigh head coach Fran Troyan. "The neat thing at this point is that I think that everyone else here now respects us. We've earned that, and our players have worked hard for that."
Gorzycki was saddled with the loss, allowing three earned runs on eight hits in four and a third innings of work. The Mountain Hawks out-hit Texas A&M by a 10-5 margin, with the ten hits setting a Lehigh NCAA regional record. Lehigh also became the first Patriot League team to win two NCAA tournament games in a year and the first to advance to the championship series.
The Mountain Hawks will meet UMass once again on Sunday afternoon. Lehigh will need to beat the Minutewomen twice to win the regional, while UMass needs just one win to eliminate the Mountain Hawks. First pitch for Sunday's first game, game six of the regional, is set for 12:00 pm with a seventh and final game, if necessary slated for 2:30 pm. All the action can be heard on 91.3 FM WLVR as well as online at lehighsports.com with streaming powered by Yahoo! Sports.