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Houston, Sam Houston Stun In Austin

(Photo Courtesy of UH Athletics)

AUSTIN –The first two games of the Austin Regional on Friday were each decided by a late homerun that broke up a defensive battle.

Houston (38-17) and Sam Houston State (35-21) came out victorious despite scoring all of their runs on one hit each – Houston with a three-run bomb from Arielle James in the fifth for the 3-1 win over Texas A&M (28-26) and Sam Houston a two-run shot in the sixth by Tiffany Thompson. Both teams had zero runs before the homers, with Sam Houston down 1-0 before Thompson’s hit over the centerfield fence upset the regional hosts, the University of Texas (41-15), 2-1.

“I was down in the count and I just really wanted to move the runner,” Thompson said. “I saw a good pitch and put a good swing on it. It felt really good but we’ve been hitting some really good balls and they haven’t been making it out so I wasn’t quite sure. But it felt really good when it left…I love being a part of this team. We all work hard every day and put it in the work. We get great team wins and I just love going out there with my girls.”

While it is the first regional hosted by Texas since 2013, it is just the second Regional appearance in program history for the Bearkats and the first since 2007. Upsetting the No. 7 RPI-ranked team in the country with the 76th team might be a surprise to others but it’s hardly shocking to Sam Houston head coach Garrett Vallis.

“We’ve been making statement wins for awhile now this season,” Vallis said. “We had a 13-game winning streak earlier in conference play. We had played well in some early season games, early nonconference games that just didn’t turn out the way we wanted them to. You could say this was an exclamation point on some of the things we’ve done this season. This team is pretty hungry and pretty humble and we’re not satisfied with being able to just win game one.”

For Houston, it was the second time this season they beat Texas A&M, the first time a 9-3 win on Feb. 27 in Houston. The Cougars had less hits (five to A&M’s six) and more errors (three to zero) but still came out victorious.

“What a game, what a start for us,” Houston coach Kristin Vesely said. “I don’t think we played as well as we could have but taking game one is one of the most important things we’ve talked about as a staff so I’m glad that’s the direction we went. We relied a little bit on our experience and we look forward to going into game two.”

One positive byproduct of the Aggies and the Longhorns both losing is they get to renew a rivalry that has been dormant since the Aggies left the Big 12 for the SEC in 2012. They will face each other tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. (CT), with the winner staying alive and the loser being eliminated.

Houston and Sam Houston have faced each other twice this season with the Cougars winning both –2-1 on February 10 and 17-1 after five innings on April 30. They will square off tomorrow at 1 p.m., with the winner advancing to the championship on Sunday and the loser playing in the elimination game tomorrow night against the winner of Texas and Texas A&M.

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