Stephanie VanBrakle and Cat Osterman engaged in such a pitcher’s duel Thursday night that something would eventually have to give. It did in the bottom of the sixth inning as Texas scored all of its runs to hold off Alabama 3-0 Thursday evening at the Women’s College World Series.
Osterman struck out 17 batters, including nine of the last 10 she faced, in the one-hit performance, the eighth time in her last 11 games she has allowed less than two hits.
Her strikeout mark equals the regulation single-game WCWS record, a record she claimed in 2003 along with Lisa Ishikawa of Northwestern in 1984. ,Tonight’s performance was her 33rd game this season with 10 or more strikeouts and the 95th of her career.
“I loosened up well tonight,” Osterman said. “I was really on the same page with (Texas catcher) Megan (Willis). I thought everything moved well for me tonight, and I have been hitting spots lately that I struggled with earlier in the season.”
VanBrakle matched Osterman pitch for pitch through the first five frames, but the Longhorns’ offense was finally able to capitalize with the trio of runs in the sixth.
Jaqueline Williams led off the frame with a walk, but VanBrakle struck out Alexis Garcia and Monica Askew. With Melanie Jarrett pinch-running at first, Tina Boutelle lifted a fly ball to shallow left-center. Shortstop Dominique Accetturo stumbled and had the ball ricochet off her glove to allow Jarrett to score from first.
Chez Sievers followed with a ground ball that VanBrakle misplayed to allow Boutelle to score. Desiree Williams then capped the scoring with a single that plated Sievers from second after she advanced on the throw to the plate.
VanBrakle allowed three runs on four hits with seven strikeouts and one walk in the losing performance. The Crimson Tide had a chance to jump on top in the second inning, but Osterman quickly silenced the threat.
“I thought the team who jumped on top early would win the game,” Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy said. “We had a chance in the second and didn’t take advantage. They got their break in the sixth, and that’s what it’s about.”
Alabama will face DePaul Saturday at 1 p.m., while Texas will take on Michigan in a game that will start at 9:30 p.m. and will be shown on ESPN and ESPNHD.