Rachel Brown fired a three-hit shutout against Texas Tech Saturday (Photo Credit: Richard Mcenery Photography).
SEATTLE, Wash. – For the second time in as many games, the Harvard softball team staved off elimination and defeated a higher-seeded team, blanking No. 23 Texas Tech, 2-0, behind a three-hit shutout from Rachel Brown Saturday in the NCAA Seattle Regional. The Crimson earned a berth in the Regional Final for the first in program history, as it will square off against tournament host No. 16 Washington Sunday at 1 p.m., at Husky Softball Stadium.
Ashley Heritage dropped a perfect bunt down to lead off the bottom of the fourth, getting the ball to come to rest right on the third base line. Kasey Lange connected with the very next pitch, lacing a single to center to give Harvard runners at first and second with no outs. A Stephanie Regan groundout moved the runners to second and third and rookie Katherine Lantz executed a suicide squeeze to perfection, allowing the speedy Heritage to race home from third with the game's first run. Allison Scott followed with a long sacrifice fly to deep right, bringing home Lange to put Harvard up 2-0 after four full frames.
Rachel Brown showed that she truly has a rubber arm, pitching as effectively as she had all season through the Texas Tech lineup. The senior was perfect in the fifth and sixth innings, collecting a pair of strikeouts in those frames and bringing the Crimson to within three outs of the victory.
A leadoff single by the Raiders in the top of the seventh put Harvard on high alert, but the designated home team got a huge boost when senior shortstop Jane Alexander helped Harvard to two outs, diving to her left to snatch a grounder, tagging second and firing to first to complete the double play. A high fly ball to right was caught by Shelbi Olson for the final out, sealing the second victory of the day for the Crimson.
Regan got the Crimson going in the bottom of the second, turning on the first pitch she saw but Tech starter Cara Custer retired the next three batters to keep the game scoreless. The Raiders threatened in the top of the fourth as Adriana Perez and Sandy James ripped back-to-back singles with two outs, but a fly out to centerfield got the Crimson out of the jam.