The 2010 NCAA Softball Tournament kicked off on THursday with No. 7 seed Texas and BYU winning in their first games of the Austin Regional.
Game recap by John Maher:
Freshman Blaire Luna tossed a one-hitter and her Texas teammates smacked four home runs as Texas opened NCAA regional play with an emphatic and record-setting 6-0 win over Iona Thursday.
"What a great night to get a record broken," said UT coach Connie Clark, whose team set two home run marks. After a late season slump, Clark said it was crucial for her team to get off to a fast start in NCAA play, and it did.
Luna, 30-8, acknowledged, "My confidence is an issue I had to deal with."
She was near perfection in the circle, striking out 14 and walking only one.
The Longhorns started their scoring early.
In the second inning, Loryn Johnson sent an off-speed offering from Iona ace Sarah Jackson soaring over the 200-foot mark in left to the delight of a gaggle of fans hanging on the rail. Even the fan whose van got dented by the shot didn't seem to mind. Although the Longhorns are known for their power, it usually comes courtesy of other players, such as left fielder Courtney Craig and right fielder Taylor Hoagland.
Craig's shot over the 220 mark in center in the third inning was her 13th of the year, a new single-season record for a Longhorn. Hoagland immediately followed with a blast that was "only" her 11th, but it was the 86th round-tripper of the season for UT, which broke the Big 12 record of 85 that Oklahoma set in 2000.
Down 3-0, the Gaels didn't have a lot of options. Jackson, now 18-7, is the only Iona pitcher who has a winning record. She'd given up only three home runs all season before facing UT. Jackson was relieved in the fifth, when the Longhorns were able to score three more runs, two courtesy of Nadia Taylor's screamer over the wall in left center.
Texas will face BYU today at 3:30 et while East Carolina and Iona will play an elimation game at 6pm.
In the opening game of the regional, Brigham Young edged East Carolina 1-0. BYU ace Paige Affleck was the pitcher who entered with control problems, having walked 125 batters in 221 innings, but it was East Carolina's Toni Paisley who had a couple of key pitches get away from her. In the bottom of the fourth, Paisley hit two batters, which ended up forcing in the only run of the game.
Paisley said a pitch or two got away but, "I did know they have a great, great offensive team and I needed to be careful."
BYU has couple of really big bats. Third baseman Angeline Quiocho has 27 home runs this year, while Andrea Ramirez has 19. Of course, some of those came in Utah's rarified air, not the May humidity in Austin that had BYU coach Gordon Eakin fretting, "It just doesn't go anywhere when they hit it."
He said that wouldn't change the team's strategy.
"We are what we are. We're going to get one or two where it goes a little further and that changes the complexion of the game a little bit," Eakin said.
The other 15 regionals will kick off today at various sites.