Techsters Upset Hawaii 2-1

HONOLULU – Krissi Oliver did it again. The junior hurler pitched and hit Louisiana Tech to a 2-1 victory over No. 22 ranked Hawaii in the first round of the 2008 Western Athletic Conference Tournament at Rainbow Wahine Softball Complex late Wednesday night.

While most folks in the central time zone were already fast asleep, Oliver kept the 534 in attendance wide awake as she recorded a impressive – but not easy – victory over Hawaii, snapping a 14-game winning streak by the Rainbow Wahine over Tech.

The victory sends Tech into a 5:45 p.m. CST showdown with No. 10 ranked Fresno State Thursday.

"I think the key to Krissi's success today was that she kept Hawaii off balance," said Tech head coach Sarah Dawson. "She threw enough strikes but also kept the ball off the plate and used Hawaii's aggressiveness against them. She mixed her speeds well. She prevented them from just sitting on pitches."

Oliver (17-13) tied her career-high she set last season with 17 wins, none of which have been more impressive than this one. The Glendale, Arizona native allowed just six hits and one run in the compete-game victory while striking out four.

She also provided what proved to be the final margin of victory with a second inning solo home run off Hawaii starter Kate Robinson (16-7) to left centerfield, giving Tech a 2-0 lead at the time.

"I think it was important that we got out to an early lead," Dawson said. "We challenged the girls to be positive and celebrate our successes. The early runs gave them something tangible to celebrate. It was important for them to believe in what we asked them to do. It also obviously gave us just enough breathing room at the end."

After Regan Clark's two-out first inning RBI double that scored Danielle Sheridan from first base just ahead of the throw and Oliver's solo shot, Robinson settled down.

Tech's only other real threat came in the top of the fifth inning when the Lady Techsters loaded the bases with one out. However, Amberly Waits lined a sinking line drive into right field that Hawaii's Tanisha Milca made a running shoestring catch on and threw to first to record the double play and end the frame.

However, Oliver simply refused to let Robinson upstage her. With the help of her defense – Tech right fielder Lyndsey McIlwain made two sliding catches to aid in the cause – Oliver cruised until the seventh frame.

Robinson led the bottom of the seventh off with her 18th home run of the season, cutting Tech's advantage to 2-1. After recording an out, Oliver hit Valana Manuma with a pitch and then saw Ritchie-Anne Titcomb double down the left field line.

Sheridan made a slide stop to prevent the ball from rolling to the fence and preserve the Tech lead as Hawaii had runners on second and third with one out.

"It's never a comfortable position to be sitting in with winning run on second," Dawson said. "Krissi has been in that situation before. The last three years has helped prepare her for the season she has had. I was proud of her focus. She stayed in control and didn't let things affect her. It was clearly a mature effort by her."

Oliver kept her composure and got pinch hitter Melissa Gonzalez to hit a soft liner to Sheridan in shallow left for the second out of the inning. Katie Grimes then hit a foul ball down the right field line that McIlwain made a sliding catch on to end the game and preserve the win.

"Our outfield came up with some great plays," Dawson said. "Lyndsey had two great catches. Krissi did a nice job in the circle but our defense played well behind her. That's what we have to do."

Emma Barnes, Clark, Kylie Bassett, Oliver and Summer Young each had one hit for Tech while Robinson led Hawaii with two hits.

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