HATTIESBURG, Miss. – Stephanie Texiera hit her fourth home run in four games against Louisiana Tech and Shannon Saile picked up her third win in three tries leading FIU to a 7-1 victory over the Lady Techsters Thursday afternoon in the second day of the 2017 Conference USA Softball Tournament.
With the loss, LA Tech (34-22) falls into the losers bracket of the tournament and will face No. 8 seed WKU Friday. Due to a weather forecast that calls for rain throughout the day, the game has been moved up to 12:30 p.m.
No. 2 seed FIU will face No. 1 seed Marshall – a 2-0 winner over WKU – at 10 a.m. The loser of the FIU/Marshall game will then play the winner of the LA Tech/WKU game at 3 p.m.
Texiera, a first team all-Conference USA selection, hit a two-run home run off LA Tech starter Preslee Gallaway in the first inning, giving the Panthers a lead they would never relinquish.
“I don’t think the game was as really lopsided as the score sounds,” said Tech coach Mark Montgomery. “At the end of the day, I actually think we played them closer than we did down there at their place. We made a couple of mistakes at bad times. When they had base runners on the got some key base hits and when he had runners on, we hit into a couple of double plays.”
Trailing 2-0 in the top of the fourth inning, Tori Charters and Morgan Turkoly recorded back-to-back singles with no outs. However, Saile (18-8) induced a fly ball out by Taria Page and then got Pauline Tufi to hit into a 5-3 double play to end the threat.
FIU then added three runs on the bottom of the frame. Texeira doubled off the wall in right field to open the inning and then Gallaway hit Kasandra Castle. Jessica Rivera then singled home a run and Sammi Green followed with an RBI single with a third run scoring on a throwing error on the play.
“I think the girls wanted to prove that they were better than we showed in Miami,” said Montgomery. “Sometimes they press and sometimes they make mistakes. I don’t think Preslee (Gallaway) was pitching bad, but she made one key mistake pitch early.”
Tech scored its lone run of the game in the fifth. Ali Galaz walked, moved to second on a passed ball and scored on Marilyn Rizzato’s RBI single to left centerfield. Tech trailed 5-1.
FIU answered in the bottom of the fifth, adding two runs off Tech reliever Bailey Allen.
Gallaway (14-13) took the loss, allowing five runs – three earned – on five hits and no walks in 4.0 innings of action. Allen tossed the final 2.0 innings, allowing two runs on four hits and two walks.
Saile (18-8) got the win, allowing only one unearned run on five this and three walks with three strikeouts.
Charters led Tech offensively with two hits while Turkoly, Rizzato (RBI) and Karlee Jensen each registered one hit.
Tech faces WKU Friday pending weather. The Lady Techsters and Hilltoppers have yet to meet in softball in Conference USA action.
“It will be the first time we have ever played them (in league action),” said Montgomery. “That’s kind of interesting. We’ve been weathered out two different series. One at their place, it snowed out and at our place rained out. We’re excited to finally get the chance to play them but boy are they playing on fire right now.
“They’re playing scrappy and hot and they take on the personality of their coach and they never give in. They fight so hard and are peaking at the right time. All the credit to them. We know we’ll have our hands full and we’ll try and go out and enjoy the opportunity to play another game.”
Friday’s contest can be heard on the LA Tech Sports Network on ESPN 97.7 FM.