SEATTLE, Wash. — Coach Shanon Hays says the 2012 Texas Tech softball team was “without question” the greatest softball team in school history.
Unfortunately for the Red Raiders, they failed to advance past the NCAA regionals, just like every other softball team in school history.
The 23rd-ranked Red Raiders dropped a pair of 2-0 decisions to 18th-ranked Washington and unranked Harvard to bow out of the NCAA tournament Saturday at the Seattle Regional. Tech finished 41-17.
Washington (37-17) plays Harvard (35-14) for the regional championship this afternoon. The champion advances to a best-of-three Super Regional.
The Red Raiders, who hit a school-record 66 home runs, went homer-less in all three games at regionals (including Friday’s 6-1 win over Maryland). Tech managed just five singles Saturday — two against Washington, and three against Maryland.
“I think everyone’s just as puzzled as I am,” said star third baseman Emily Bledsoe, one of a school-record eight seniors on the Red Raiders. “Some days you’re hot, some days you’re cold. This is one of those days.”
Harvard senior Rachel Brown (21-6), who threw 62/3 innings of one-hit, shutout relief against Tech in a 7-0 loss at the Tucson Regional last year, tamed the Red Raiders in her third complete game in two days.
“She’s a great pitcher,” Tech coach Shanon Hays said, “because she’s got a great competitor, moves the ball up and down, in and out and has a phenomenal change-up.”
Harvard had just four total hits and scored its only two runs in the fourth inning.
Brown and Washington freshman Kasey Stanchek (10-2), who threw four-plus innings of no-hit ball to earn the win over Tech, are not hard throwers. Bledsoe and Tech cleanup hitter Adriana Perez said the Red Raiders tend to hit better against harder throwers.
Hays, ejected midway through the Washington game, wasn’t on hand when a promising Tech rally was short-circuited by a non-call on possible fielder’s interference in the sixth inning of the Washington loss.
A single to center by Perez appeared certain to move Mikey Kenney (who had been hit by a pitch) from first to third with none out. Kenney, however, was tagged out after falling midway between second and third.
The Red Raiders argued vehemently that shortstop Courtney Gano had made illegal contact with Kenney. The umpires gathered to discuss the situation, but made no change.
The Red Raiders already trailed 2-0 when Hays was booted, apparently for repeatedly questioning the strike zone of home plate umpire John Baca (“No comment,” Hays said). Hays said he wasn’t surprised when he got the heave-ho.
“They’ve got a good hospitality room here – I took advantage of it,” Hays joked.
Standout Tech pitcher Cara Custer (25-11), who grew up south of Seattle in Spanaway, Wash., lost despite throwing a three-hitter. Three of her four walks, plus a wild pitch and hit batter, helped Washington push across runs in the second and third innings.
“She made some good pitches and handled the pressure … I was really proud of her,” Hays said.
NCAA SEATTLE REGIONAL
at Husky Stadium, Seattle, Wash.
WASHINGTON 2, TEXAS TECH 0
Washington 011 000 0 — 2 3 0
Texas Tech 000 000 0 — 0 2 0
Stanchek, Inglesby (5) and Wright; Custer and Gentsch. W — Stanchek (10-2). L — Custer (25-11). Records: Washington 38-17.
HARVARD 2, TEXAS TECH 0
Texas Tech 000 000 0 — 0 3 0
Washington 000 200 x — 2 4 0
Talley, Brokeshoulder (4) and Gentsch; Brown and Scott. W — Brown (21-6). L — Talley (12-5). Records: Texas Tech 41-17; Harvard 35-14.