OXFORD, Miss. – Louisiana Tech sophomore pitcher Preslee Gallaway is earning quite the reputation as a competitor.
For the second time this season, Gallaway bounced back after a sub-par performance with an incredible performance against an SEC foe.
The Pilot Point, Texas native – coming off her worst outing of the season in a 13-7 loss to McNeese State on Sunday – recorded a career-high 12 strikeouts in a heartbreaking 4-3 extra inning loss to 23rd ranked Ole Miss Wednesday night in Oxford.
Gallaway (6-3) grew stronger as the game wore on, registering eight of her 12 strikeouts over the final 11 outs of the game. However, Ole Miss first baseman Brittany Finney’s two-out, two-strike solo home run deep over the left centerfield fence in the bottom of the eighth inning spoiled the night for Gallaway and the Lady Techsters.
It was the second time Gallaway has done that this year. After a sub-par outing in a 9-2 loss to Texas two weeks ago, she responded by tossing a complete-game in a 5-1 win over South Carolina.
“There aren’t any moral victories tonight,” said Tech head coach Mark Montgomery. “There were some proud moment we had as a team and as individuals, but we aren’t okay with the loss. We came here to win. That’s our mentality. We are past moral victories.
“I thought Preslee was unbelievable. She made a couple of mistakes that they hit out of the park, but besides that, she was really incredible. She got stronger and stronger as the game progressed. There aren’t too many pitchers in our conference that can match her. She struck out 12 batters against the 23rd ranked team in the country on their field. I’m proud of her.”
Tech (11-6) took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Tori Charters tripled down the right field line and then scored on Pauline Tufi’s RBI single to right field off Ole Miss starter Kaitlin Lee. Ole Miss responded in the bottom of the first. Elantra Cox tripled to center field and then scored on a passed ball to tie the game at 1-1.
The Rebels took a 2-1 lead in the second on a pair of hits. Tech had a chance in the top of the third to tie the game or take the lead as Jazlyn Crowder and Charters each singled, but Lee pitched out of the jam to end the threat.
In the bottom of the fourth, Ole Miss added another run as Dylinn Stancil hit a two-out home run to left centerfield, upping the Rebels lead to 3-1.
Tech finally answered in the top of the sixth inning. Charters singled, Tufi walked and Taria Page lined a single to centerfield to load the bases with no outs and chase Lee from the game. Ole Miss reliever Alyssa Clayton came in and retired three of the four batters she faced but a pair of wild pitches allowed Charters and pinch runner Kimmie Atienza to score the tying runs.
By then, Gallaway was cruising, striking out six straight Ole Miss batters from the fifth inning to the seventh inning. She also pitched out of a first and third jam in the bottom of the seventh, recording her 12th strikeout of the game to end the threat.
Tech had a chance in the top of the eighth to take the lead. Berkley Calapp led off with a single and Crowder walked to put runners on first and second with no outs. However, Tech was unable to get a sacrifice bunt down and then a ground ball double play ended the Lady Techsters hope of taking the lead.
Gallaway retired the first two batters in the bottom of the eighth on ground balls to second base before Finney’s heroics ended the night.
Ole Miss entered the game having won eight of its 12 games by the run-rule fashion with its only two losses coming to No.4 Oklahoma 11-8 and North Dakota State 1-0. The Rebels extended their winning streak to nine games.
Gallaway ended the night tossing 7.2 innings, allowing four runs – three earned – on nine hits and one walk with the career-high 12 strikeouts. Her previous career-high was 8 vs. Grambling State last weekend.
Tech returns to action Friday when it faces Tennessee State at 9 a.m. and Wright State at 1:30 p.m. in the Memphis Tournament.