TECHSTERS TAKE TITLE!

May 10, 2008 HONOLULU - Krissi Oliver's solo home run leading off the top of the seventh inning propelled Louisiana Tech to a 2-1 win over No. 17 Nevada and the 2008 Western Athletic Conference title Saturday at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.

By virtue of the title, Louisiana Tech (35-27) earned the automatic berth in the 2008 NCAA Tournament which will be the program's ninth appearance and first since 1995.

"I'm so excited for this team," said Tech head coach Sarah Dawson. "I'm proud of the way our kids played; they fought all weekend. I was proud of how competitive they were. We found so many different ways to win these games. The kids believed in what we asked of them and they saw good results."

The victory was Tech's fourth over a Top 25 team in as many days as the Lady Techsters downed No. 22 Hawaii (2-1) Wednesday, No. 10 Fresno State (3-2) Thursday, No. 17 Nevada (4-3) Friday and then the Wolf Pack again Saturday.

Oliver, who was named tournament MVP, did more than just offensive damage for Tech in the championship game. The junior got the start in the circle and battled through six innings, scattering 10 hits and one walk while working her way out of numerous jams.

The game was scoreless through five innings before Tech (35-27) took a 1-0 lead in the top of the sixth inning. Emma Barnes led the fame off with a single and advanced to second on fielding error by Nevada catcher Noelle Micka on a sacrifice bunt attempt by Danielle Sheridan.

Amberly Waits then successfully sacrificed the runners to second and third. Regan Clark followed with a sacrifice fly to centerfield, scoring Barnes from third base and giving Tech a 1-0 lead.

Nevada answered in the bottom of the sixth inning. The Wolf Pack started the fame with three straight singles to load the bases with no outs. Pinch hitter Michelle Beach flew out to left fielder Danielle Sheridan to tie the game at 1-1.

Oliver then induced back to back ground outs to get out of the frame, but she was far from done with her work. Oliver lined the first pitch she saw from Nevada hurler Jordan McPherson over the left centerfield wall, giving the Lady Techsters a 2-1 lead.

"At the end of last year we asked Krissi if she was ready to take on the role of hitter as well," Dawson said. "I knew when we recruited her she could hit. She looked us in the eye and said, `Yes.'. We told her it would mean working extra hard.

"Her pitching still comes first but she gets extra work with the hitters. I'm proud of her for balancing the two; it's not easy."

Dawson made a gutsy decision heading into the bottom of the seventh, taking Oliver out and putting freshman hurler Wanda Malone into the game.

Malone walked the leadoff batter but then retired the next three hitters, including recording a strikeout of Britton Murdock to end the game.

"It was the hardest decision we had to make this weekend," Dawson said. "It's hard to take your No.1 pitcher out and bring in a freshman. After her success in the Hawaii series at home (earlier this year), Wanda learned a lot. She bought into what we were asking her to do. She came in here (this week) and pitched great when we needed them."

Oliver was joined on the all-tournament team by teammates Regan Clark, Danielle Sheridan and Kylie Bassett.

Louisiana Tech will find out the site of its NCAA regional appearance Sunday at 9 p.m. CST when the NCAA Softball Selection Show will air on ESPNU.

2008 WAC Softball All-Tournament Team

Krissi Oliver, Louisiana Tech, P

Regan Clark, Louisiana Tech, C

Kylie Bassett, Louisiana Tech, 1B

Richie-Anne Titcomb, Hawai''i, 2B

Ashley Maroda, New Mexico State, 3B

Danielle Patrick, Nevada, SS

Danielle Sheridan, Louisiana Tech, OF

Sarah Taylor, San Jose State, OF

Brittany Puzey, Nevada, OF

Kate Robinson, Hawai'i, UT-P

Audrey Andrade, Hawai'i, UT

Stephanie Herrera, New Mexico State, OF

MVP: Krissi Oliver, Louisiana Tech


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