NEW ORLEANS – In a tense pitcher's duel that lasted 10 innings, the Texas Tech softball team ground out a tough, 2-1 victory over Montana on Sunday to improve to 5-0 on the season.
Missy Zoch started the game, but Erin Edmoundson was awarded the win after she limited the Grizzlies to no hits and no runs through 5.1 innings of work. The junior hurler tallied six strikeouts while Zoch posted seven through 4.2 innings.
Four Red Raiders – Heaven Burton (2), Karli Hamilton, Alanna Barraza and Maddie Westmoreland – collected hits while the Tech pitching staff limited Montana to just four.
Burton notched a single to left field for Tech's first hit of the game in the top of the third, but the Red Raiders were unable to capitalize in the next at-bat.
Montana answered with a hit in the bottom of the frame, but Zoch responded with a pair of strikeouts to end the inning.
Both teams remained silent until the bottom of the fifth when Montana's Brooklyn Weisgram hit a one-out home run off of Zoch. The senior battled back with a strikeout in the next at-bat but the Grizzlies kept the pressure on and a wild pitch after back-to-back singles placed two runners in scoring position.
Coming in with a 2-1 count, Edmoundson entered the circle in relief and recorded the final out of the inning with a statement strikeout.
Tech was determined to fight back and Westmoreland smacked a single to center field to start the sixth inning. A Grizzly error off the bat of Burton gave Tech two runners and a textbook sacrifice bunt from Michaela Cochran moved the pair into scoring position.
Zoe Jones juiced the bases after she was struck in the arm by a pitch and Hamilton evened the game, 1-1, with a shallow single to center field.
Edmoundson used two strikeouts and a fly ball to center field to send Tech to the top of the seventh and Barraza tried to spark the lineup with a two-out double through the right-center field gap. However, the Red Raiders were once again unable to capitalize and Tech was forced to make a crucial stop in the bottom of the inning.
Edmoundson, who showed maturity in the circle, registered two more strikeouts and depended on a final grab by Burton in left field to send the game into extra innings.
Following international tiebreaker (ITB) rules, both teams began their respective frames with a runner on second base. The Red Raiders were unable to move their runner, and Tech made a critical stop at third base for out number one in the bottom of the inning. Edmoundson carried the momentum with a strikeout and a pop up to Kelcy Leach behind the plate sent Tech to the dugout for the ninth time.
The Red Raiders moved pinch runners Amanda DeSario and Payton Jackson to second and third, respectively, but the lineup struggled to break through the 1-1 stalemate.
Montana drew a walk to start the bottom of the ninth and a sacrifice bunt put two runners in scoring position with just one out. The Grizzlies poked a ball over to second, but Yvonne Whaley kept cool and threw out the lead runner at the plate to hold the score. With pressure looming, Montana's home-run hitter stepped up to the plate but Edmoundson was able to induce an easy grounder and the Red Raiders escaped the jam unscathed.
Digging in their heels, the Red Raiders began the 10th inning with Whaley – one of the fastest Red Raiders – on second base. Freshman Brianna Cantu stepped up and laid down a crucial sacrifice bunt that moved Whaley just 60 feet away from home plate with two outs remaining. The next Red Raider was unable to force a play, leaving it up to Burton on two outs. On the first pitch she saw, Burton slapped the ball deep into the six-hole and she beat the throw over to first. Reading the play, Whaley dashed home on the throw and crossed home plate safely to give the Red Raiders the one-run edge they needed.
Heading out to the circle for the bottom of the 10th inning, Edmoundson shut down the Grizzlies' 7-8-9 hitters and Tech ended the 10-inning marathon with a one-run victory.
With the win, Tech improves to a perfect 5-0 on the season and Edmoundson moves to 3-0.
The Red Raiders continue action on Thursday, Feb. 13, for the first day of the St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational in Clearwater, Fla. For all the latest information on the Texas Tech softball team, visit TexasTech.com or follow @TexasTechSB on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.