Feb. 10, 2012
ATHENS, Ga. -
Freshman right-hander Morgan Lashley went the distance on a nifty two-hitter and classmate Alex Gaff went 2-for-2 at the plate and scored a run as Army edged Utah State, 3-2, in its season opener at the Red and Black Showcase hosted by the University of Georgia.
It is just the 16th time Army has won its season opener since softball became at varsity sport at West Point in 1979, and is the first time since 2003 and just the seventh at the Division I level. Lashley is the first freshman to hurl Army to a season-opening win since Hall of Famer Colleen McCabe led the Black Knights to an 8-2 win over Grand Valley State as a plebe in 1988.
Lashley was spectacular in her first collegiate game limiting Utah State to just two hits, one in the first inning and the other in the sixth inning, along with five strikeouts. Both of the Aggies runs in the fifth inning were unearned.
Sophomore outfielder Amanda Nguyen drove in Army's first run of the game with her two-out infield single that delivered senior co-captain Rachael Duval, who reached on a fielder's choice and moved around on a walk and infield groundout. With a runner at third, starter Shelbi Tyteca denied Army the insurance run when the next batter had a grounder back to the circle.
Errors paved the way in the fifth inning as both teams scored a pair of unearned runs. Utah State, a member of the Western Athletic Conference, capitalized in the top of the fifth inning on an infield error that allowed Jolen Koons, issued an walk, to race home from second base to tie the score 1-1. Following a strikeout and groundout, Utah State scored on a wild pitch to pull in front 2-1.
That lead proved short lived as Army won the game off reliever Mandy Harmon (0-1) in the bottom of the fifth inning. After striking out the first two batters she faced, Harmon walked the next three to load the bases followed by back-to-back infield errors. Jen Johnson tied the game when she crossed on the first error with Gaff snapping it when Meghan McGowan was safe on the third baseman's miscue. Though Harmon got out of the inning on a groundout with bases loaded, the damage was done.
After giving up a single and a walk to start off the top of the sixth inning, Lashley closed the door on a strikeout with runners at second and third base en route to retiring six straight batters for her first collegiate win along with leaving six runners stranded.
The Black Knights collected seven hits off two pitchers with Gaff, the designated player, collecting a hit in the second and fourth innings. Johnson had a hit and scored a run, along with singles by Nguyen, April Ortenzo, Alex Reynolds and Alexis AuBuchon. The Black Knights left 10 runners on base.
Army faces a stern test in its second game of the day when it takes on the host Bulldogs at 9:30 this evening at Jack Turner Stadium.