Feb. 7, 2013
Honolulu, Hawaii--The UAB softball team opened the 2013 season with a 4-3 victory over No. 16 Washington at the Oceanic Time Warner Cable Paradise Classic.
"It feels great to get our first win," head coach Marla Townsend said. "Coming in, I knew that we were one of the top teams in the country, and I told the girls to play like it. We had two perfect relays to get some fast runners out at third base and at the plate. We threw out a tying run in the third inning, and it was just a complete team effort."
UAB opened the game with strong pitching from junior Leigh Streetman, who retired the first three Washington batters. The Huskies went on to score in the second inning off a double from Kelli Suguro.
The Blazers broke the game open in the fourth inning when junior Kristen McGrath blasted her first homerun of the season while sitting on an 0-2 count. One pitch later, and senior Kate Armstrong homered to the same spot to give the Blazers the 2-1 lead.
"We talk about being relentless, and this team was tonight," Townsend said. "They sat there and answered back in all these situations. Kristen McGrath came up to the plate and had two strikes on her when she homered to tie the game, and Kate (Armstrong) followed on the very next pitch. They just know that one swing of the bat can completely change the game."
Junior Megan McGrath reached on a walk, and freshman Kelly Britt saw her first action in Green and Gold as a pinch runner. Senior Chandler Orr then doubled to right field, and was advanced to third by a wild pitch and Britt ran home to push the lead to 3-1. Senior Anna Kimbrell's sac fly to right field brought Orr home to push the lead to 4-1.
"I'm proud, and I think they came out here and played excellent, and that's one of our goals," Townsend said. "We take pride in doing things well, just like we did tonight. We had ten games worth of experience in this one game, from the relays getting thrown out to the pitching situation. It was just a great game, and the fact that we were relentless to the end and came out on top was huge."
The Huskies came back in the fifth inning when nine-hole hitter Kimberlee Souza homered to left field. Victoria Hayward then reached on a bunt and stole second. All-American Kaitlin Inglesby singled to right to bring Hayward home for Washington's third run of the game. With the bases loaded, junior pitcher Lannah Campbell entered the circle for the first time this season. Kimbrell tagged the leadoff runner Jennie McNeil at home, assisted by Pearson, and then Campbell struck out Jerrin Faasua looking to get out of the inning.
"Lannah complements every pitcher that we have, and the bases were loaded when she came in and they had their big hitters up," Townsend continued. "Her job is to create ground balls, and with a speed runner on third, she created one so Pearson could throw her out at the plate. Leigh Streetman pitched an amazing game, and Lannah came in and really helped bring things home. We played smart tonight, and grew so much as a team. They understand that all their work has paid off, but we have to continue to play as we played tonight."
Campbell struck out three more Washington batters between the sixth and seventh innings to seal UAB's win.
At No. 16, Washington is the highest-ranked opponent UAB has defeated in program history, and also marks the Blazers' first victory over a Pac-12 school. The last time the Blazers defeated a ranked opponent was during the 2011 season, when the Green and Golf topped then No. 25 Houston in each games of the conference series.
No. 23 Hawaii 7, UAB 2
The Blazers (1-1) met tournament host Hawaii (2-0) in the final game of the night, and lost 7-2.
Armstrong got things going in the second inning with a single up the middle, followed by Orr's single up the right side, and Kimbrell walked to load the bases. Pearson grounded out to second to advance Armstrong for the first score of the game. Hawaii responded in the bottom of the second with a defensive miscue led to an unearned Rainbow Wahine score.
In the top of the third inning, Attfield reached on a bunt, and advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Davis. Armstrong returned to the plate and singled to left center, which brought Attfield home for UAB's second run of the game.
Defensive struggles continued to plague the Blazers throughout the remainder of the game. Pitchers Lauren Webster and Lannah Campbellcombined for a total of seven strikeouts, and Kimbrell had a team-high six putouts for the game.
UAB will return to the Rainbow Wahine Softball stadium on Friday to take on Ole Miss at 11 a.m. HT (3 p.m. CT), followed by St. Mary's at 1 p.m. HT (5 p.m. CT). Follow @UABSoftball on Twitter for in-game updates.