LA Tech walks it off in series softball sweep of UTEP

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RUSTON, La. – Mary Terral provided the heroics and Krystal De La Cruz provided the work in the circle as Louisiana Tech swept a Sunday Conference USA doubleheader, defeating UTEP 9-1 in 5 innings and 3-2 in 10 innings at the Lady Techster Softball Complex.

Tech (34-10, 13-2) recorded its fourth series sweep of the season but it took some late-game heroics from Terral, a former Cedar Creek product in the series finale.

“I’m proud of this team,” said Tech head coach Mark Montgomery. “We are finding ways to win games. We’ve won a lot of games late, including two in this series. They simply don’t give up. That’s the sign of a veteran team; a team that has been through the battles.

“We had to overcome some adversity today. Kira McKechnie pitched really well against us all weekend. She has figured something out these last few weeks for them. She isn’t the same kid who started the year for them. But we found a way against her late in both the first and third games of this series. We showed some real mental fortitude.”

With the wins, Tech now sits alone in first place in the Conference USA standings. The Lady Techsters will host Grambling State Tuesday at 6 p.m. It will cap a nine-game homestand that has seen Tech post a 7-1 mark thus far.

The Lady Techsters will travel to Huntington, W.V., this weekend for an important three-game series against Marshall with a Friday doubleheader and a Saturday single game.

Game 1: LA Tech 9, UTEP 1 (5 innings)

Louisiana Tech recorded seven extra base hits and Krystal De La Cruz (13-2) pitched a solid five innings to lift the Lady Techster to a 9-1 run-rule victory in the first game of the day.

De La Cruz allowed just one run on four hits and one walk with four strikeouts while going the distances in the contest.

Tech plated three runs in the first, three runs in the second, two more in the third and one in the fifth in recording the victory.

Zoe Hicks started the scoring for Tech in the bottom of the first with a two-run triple to left centerfield, plating Morgan Turkoly and Jazlyn Crowder. Lindsay Edwards followed with a sacrifice fly scoring pinch runner Meghan Robicheaux and giving Tech a 3-0 lead.

UTEP scored its lone run of the game with a two-out double down the right field line by Pate Cathey in the top of the second inning.

Sloane Stewartson doubled the Tech run total in the bottom of the second inning, hitting a bases-clearing three-run triple to right centerfield. It was a ball that would have left the park if not for gusting winds blowing in all day long, providing some difficult plays in the outfield.

Mary Terral made the score 8-1 in the bottom of the third inning. Terral laced a two-run double to left centerfield, plating Bayli Simon and Marilyn Rizzato. It wouldn’t be the last big hit for Terral in the doubleheader.

Tech ended the game in the bottom of the fifth. Turkoly laced a double down the left field line, scoring Kimmie Atienza and giving the Lady Techsters the 9-1 victory.

Game 2: LA Tech 3, UTEP 2 (10 innings)

With Tech trailing 2-1 and down to its final out in the bottom of the seventh inning, Mary Terral connected on the first pitch she saw from UTEP starter Kira McKechie and sent it deep over the centerfield wall, tying the game at two and sending it into extra innings.  It was Terral’s sixth home run of the season.

Krystal De La Cruz, who came on in relief of Preslee Gallaway in the fourth inning, and McKechnie battled out for out in the circle in the extra innings with both recording big outs. De La Cruz got a huge defensive play from Terral with runners on 1st and 2nd and one out in the eighth inning as the Tech right fielder tracked down a ball in the right centerfield gap for the second out of the inning, saving a run.

Tech scored the winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning. AJ Williams reached on an error by the UTEP third baseman to start the inning. Kimmie Atienza then reached on fielders choice as Williams was retired and Morgan Turkoly and Jazlyn Crowder both walked. With the bases loaded and one out, Sloane Stewartson lined a 2-1 pitch into the right centerfield gap to plate the game-winning run.

UTEP (11-29, 4-11) plated a run in the first and one in the third against Gallaway, including Kacey Duffield’s ninth home run of the season. Tech scratched for a run in the bottom of the fourth inning on a double steal attempt where the Miner’s threw the ball away.

The scored remained 2-1 until Terral’s home run in the bottom of the seventh.

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