Howard Overwhelmed In Loss To Pacific
Tuscon, AR-May 19-Pacific University woke up from its deep sleep and erupted offensively as it shut out Howard, 13-0 in the Tuscon Regional of the NCAA women's softball tournament at Hillenbrand Stadium. The loss eliminates the Bison (35-21), who were playing in their first ever tournament.
The Tigers (35-23) from the Big West Conference had struggled of late, dropping seven straight games including an opening round 7-1 decision Mississippi State on Friday. But Pacific came alive in its match-up with Howard, scoring in every inning while banging out 12 hits.
"We had our opportuntities," said Howard fifth-year Coach Tonja Braxton, who has taken the six-year old program to its first MEAC Tournament championship and NCAA appearance. "We had leadoff runner on base in each of the first two innings and came away with nothing. On the other hand, they (Pacific) got something out of their opportuntities and they capitalized. Ultimately, we would have gotten out-hit by them. But if you are able to take advantage early opportunities, you give yourself a chance to offset that."
The Tigers got on the board in the first inning by taking advantage of one of the Bison's miscues. It resulted in a 2-0 lead and more importantly some much-needed confidence for a struggling team in an elimination game.
Pacific would go on to score three runs in the second, two more in the third and a big, six-run explosion in the fourth that ended Howard's storybook season.
"This was certainly an eye opener for our players," noted Braxton. "They now realize that the farther you go in the post-season, the fewer mistakes you can make."
Brianne Guiterrez, who got the team's only hit of the game and for the tournament, summed up the game by saying, "From a team standpoint, we definitely have something to build upon. It was our first experience at this level and now we know what we have to do to compete at this level."
For Coach Braxton, her first NCAA experience, left her pondering the future.
"As a coach, this helps you realize that you have to go out and recruit not just for your conference level, but for this level."
GAME NOTES: The Bison pitching staff surrendered 21 runs and 5 homers during the two games...Howard managed only hit and left six on base...Pacific was four-for-four on stolen bases against Howard...the middle of the Bison batting order, Courtney Young, Kristina Cordova and Jennifer Bien-Aime, went 0-for-8 and struck out 8 times among them...Howard returns several key players for next year including Young, Cordova, Dale McNeal, Bien Aime, Candice Tatum and Sukai Curtis Contreras to go along with an outstanding recruiting class.