May 8, 2008
Morris, Northwest Outlast Central Missouri
EMPORIA, Kan.-Northwest senior pitcher Kelly Morris delivered one of the best performances of her career in a game her teammates needed her most.
Fighting to extend her career and her team's season, Morris pitched a career-best 11 innings of shutout ball and struck out a season-high 10 to outduel 24th-ranked Central Missouri in an elimination contest at the NCAA regional tournament Thursday night.
The win advances the Bearcats (32-21) in the consolation bracket to a Friday evening matchup against the loser of top-seeded Emporia State and fourth-seeded Nebraska-Omaha. Those two teams play the third game of the day Friday at 3 p.m. Northwest will play at 8 p.m.
Morris (18-10) pitched her fourth shutout this season and the 13th of her three-year career at Northwest. She's reached 143 strikeouts this season, one shy of the Bearcats' single-season record.
Morris allowed 10 hits, struck out 10 and walked nobody. She allowed three hits in the final five innings of the game and worked out of a one-out triple in the bottom of the 11th to preserve the win. The Bearcats had lost their previous three games - all in extra innings - before outlasting the Jennies (36-22).
Erin Leslie drew a leadoff walk in the top of the 11th and moved to second on a bunt single by Casey Carper. Tiffany Carter tried to sacrifice the runners up, but a pop up led to Carper being doubled off first for a double play.
Jennies' shortstop Tracey Anderson booted a ground ball hit by Cortney Channell and Leslie came around third to score the game's only run. It was the only error committed by UCM in the contest.
Katie Bauer's one-out triple in the bottom of the 11th was the game's only extra-base hit and it gave the Jennies a chance to tie. But Bauer was picked off third and tagged out by first baseman Janelle Krohn during a run down to erase the Jennies' final threat. Morris' 10th and final strikeout followed to end the game.
Bauer was one of three Central Missouri players with three hits in the contest. Jennies' starting pitcher Megan Leonard pitched nine shutout innings, allowed four hits and went 3-for-4 at the plate.
Leonard retired 12 straight Bearcats spanning innings 5-8, but was replaced in the 10th after logging 16 innings on the day. Kristal Holland (12-8) pitched a 1-2-3 10th inning before surrendering the winning run in the 11th.
The Jennies had their chances to score early, but failed to deliver against Morris.
Central had a runner in scoring position with less than two outs in each of innings 2-5. Morris induced 18 ground ball outs during the contest and used them to work out of early jams. She also got support from Carper in centerfield, who gunned down Marisha Branson at the plate in the third. Branson tried to score from second on a base hit by Tarese Ely-Myers.
Carper's two hits accounted for a third of the Bearcats' offense on the night. Leslie, the 22nd-leading scorer in the nation, crossed home for the 49th time this season. She's five runs shy of the program's single-season record.
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