With the Conference USA Tournament just three weeks away, Louisiana Tech knew this weekend’s four-game series against the Texas-El Paso Miners at Dr. Billy Bundrick Field could be huge in determining the Lady Techsters fate.
After splitting Sunday’s doubleheader including a disappointing 1-0 loss in the nightcap, Monday’s two games loomed even larger.
Enter freshman Lauren Menzina and senior Bre Hernandez.
Menzina (3-0) recorded her first collegiate complete-game shutout in Game 1 while Hernandez followed it up with a complete-game victory in Game 2 as the Lady Techsters moved into third place in the West Division standings with only two weekends remaining.
Tech (18-24, 7-5 C-USA) won 2-0 in Monday’s afternoon tilt before taking the nightcap 3-2. Hernandez was one out away from recording her own shutout before back-to-back run-scoring doubles pulled UTEP (9-23, 4-12) to within a run. Hernandez recorded the final out with the tying run on second.
“I thought both Lauren and Bre were solid all day,” said interim head coach Bianca Duran. “They really dominated the day. We played flawless defense behind them and got a few timely hits. Madie (Green) and Zoe (Hicks) were huge for us all weekend.”
Green’s two-out single in the fourth and her run on a two-out infield single by Amanda Gonzalez in the fifth were all the scoring Tech needed behind Menzina’s gem. The former Cedar Creek High School star worked out of early trouble time after time, stranding 10 UTEP base runners in the first four innings.
Hicks’ two-run double in the third in game two gave Tech the early lead. Green then scored on a throwing error with two outs in the fifth as Tech held on for the 3-2 victory.
Tech will travel to face Northwestern State today at 6 p.m. in Natchitoches before heading to Hattiesburg for a four-game series with USM starting Friday.
GOLF: Opening day of the 2021 Conference USA Golf Championships saw birthday boy Sam Murphy card a three-under-par 69 as Louisiana Tech ended the opening 18 holes in fourth place a team total of one-over-par 289 at Texarkana, Arkansas.
Sam, who along with twin brother Mac turned 22 on Monday, registered six birdies on the day, including three straight on holes 15, 16 and 17. He sits in a tie for third place in the individual standings.
Mac Murphy and Lake Juban both registered even par 72s on the day — good for a tie for 15th place. James Swash shot four-over-par 76.
Texas-San Antonio leads the competition with a five-under-par 283 followed by Charlotte (286), North Texas (288), Tech (289), Southern Miss (290), Alabama-Birmingham (294), Rice (294), Old Dominion (294), Texas-El Paso (295), Middle Tennessee (296), Western Kentucky (300), Marshall (308) and Florida Atlantic (309).
Today and Wednesday will be the final two rounds of stroke play. Following stroke play, the top four teams will be seeded and will conclude the championship on Thursday with a match play playoff. The winning team will gain the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Championship.
DUNKIN’ DOGS: Former Louisiana Tech assistant men’s basketball coach Talvin Hester was hired as the third assistant on Texas Tech’s head coach Mark Adams’ staff Monday according to a report from Jeff Goodman of Stadium.
Hester, who originally accepted an assistant coaching spot with Colorado State back on April 15, was at Louisiana Tech the last three years, and was on staff with Paul Mills at Oral Roberts and Kelvin Sampson at Houston prior to his stint with the Bulldogs.