Alert base running helps Aggies prevail over Ragin' Cajuns

Updated: May 31, 2008, 1:08 AM ET
Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Texas A&M coach Jo Evans stopped, adjusted the microphone and tried to figure out a modest way to make her point without bragging.

Her team doesn't make many mistakes, and it's becoming more and more obvious at the Women's College World Series.

Rhiannon Kliesing singled home the decisive run in the seventh inning as Texas A&M beat Louisiana-Lafayette 2-1 Friday night by turning an unearned run into a victory for the second straight game.

"I think that's the difference in the team that's going to win the championship. Everyone's going to have an error, I think, in this tournament unless somebody's just flawless," Evans said. "The team that's going to win the tournament is the one that can bounce back from that or be in pressure situations and not have that time they make the error."

Jami Lobpries stole second and then alertly moved to third when shortstop Brooke Brodhead missed pitcher Ashley Brignac with her throw back to the pitcher's circle and the ball bounded toward the Lafayette dugout.

That put Lobpries in position to score on Kliesing's line single to center that likely wouldn't have been enough to bring her in from second.

"I really didn't even think that much. It's just reaction," Lobpries said. "As soon as I saw the ball get away, I took the most of my opportunity."

[+] EnlargeBrooke Brodhead, Jami Lobpries
AP Photo/The Oklahoman, Bryan TerryTexas A&M's Jami Lobpries slides under the tag of Louisiana-Lafayette's Brooke Brodhead to steal second base in the seventh inning.
The fifth-seeded Aggies (56-7) have positioned themselves one win from the best-of-three championship series by taking advantage of errors while not leaving any openings for their opponents. It's an approach that's worked all season for Texas A&M, which led the nation with a .984 fielding percentage this season and is one of only two teams that hasn't committed an error yet at the World Series.

In their opening game, the Aggies scored the only run in a 1-0 victory against Virginia Tech when third baseman Charisse Mariconda threw wildly to first on Megan Gibson's two-out grounder, allowing pinch-runner Andrea Tovar to score from second.

"Our team has shown a lot of poise all season long, and we don't cost ourselves games," Evans said. "Typically when we get beat, somebody comes out and just beats us. Fortunately, that hasn't happened very often."

Lobpries drove in the Aggies' first run Friday night with a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning and Gibson (40-1) threw a four-hitter for her 15th straight win, keeping the unseeded Ragin' Cajuns from pulling off a second straight upset after knocking off top-seeded Florida in their Series opener.

The Ragin' Cajuns broke up Gibson's no-hit bid with one out in the fifth inning, and then avoided the shutout with a rally in the sixth.

Vallie Gaspard reached on a bunt single and moved to second when Gibson pitched around Holly Tankersley, who hit her 22nd home run of the season to win the Series opener, with one out. Melissa Verde then reached on an infield single before Gabrielle Bridges tied it up with a sacrifice fly to center field.

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Lana Bowers, who'd broken up Gibson's no-hitter with a one-out single an inning earlier, struck out to end the inning.

Brignac (31-7), a freshman who struck out a career-best 15 hitters in the upset of the Gators, gave up five hits and struck out four as Lafayette failed in its bid to win in both of the World Series opening rounds for the first time in school history.

Lafayette (52-14), making its fifth World Series appearance, will need three more wins over the next two days to reach the finals.

"This is a special group of girls," Cajuns coach Stefni Lotief said. "I never count them out. This is their dream and they're not going to stop fighting because they were one run shy of getting it done this afternoon. These girls are fighters and champions, and when you have that you're ready to go to war any time."

Arizona State 4, UCLA 0


Lesley Rogers and Krista Donnenwirth each had an RBI single to cash in after UCLA intentionally walked Kaitlin Cochran.

Arizona State coach Clint Myers moved Cochran into the leadoff spot after Alabama walked her in all three plate appearances a night earlier, the final one leading to the Sun Devils' winning rally. That didn't stop the Bruins (51-8), who have won more World Series titles than anyone else, from trying the same strategy.

Anjelica Selden (29-4) got out of a bases-loaded jam after walking Cochran -- a .448 hitter -- in the first inning, but the next two intentional passes led to Cochran scoring.

An additional run scored when center fielder Katie Schroeder misplayed Rogers' RBI single in the third inning, and two runs also came in on Donnenwirth's single in the fifth inning -- the second when the Bruins tried to catch Donnenwirth advancing to second and botched the play.

Katie Burkhart (38-5) threw a four-hit shutout for Arizona State.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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