Nevada Claims First-Ever NCAA Regional Victory
LOS ANGELES The Nevada softball team claimed its first-ever NCAA Regional victory with a 4-1 win over Purdue on Friday.
Sophomore Katie Holverson tossed a complete-game three-hitter and Britton Murdock slammed a three-run home run to propel Nevada to the victory. The Wolf Pack improved to 43-16 overall and will face the winner of UCLA-Cal State Fullerton on Saturday at 3 p.m. at UCLA’s Easton Stadium.
“I think this is a huge confidence boost as a group,” Nevada coach Michelle Gardner said.
Holverson was dominant in the circle against the Boilermakers in running her record to 21-6 on the year. She struck out eight and walked just three and only yielded one run as Purdue manufactured a run in the third inning.
“The bottom line is that she did her job,” Purdue coach Kim Maher said of Holverson. “We didn’t adjust to her.”
Holverson was staked to the 3-0 lead after Murdock’s first-inning blast. With temperatures topping 90 degrees, the head didn’t bother the Anthem, Ariz.-native.
“I felt really good out there and felt confident when we got those three runs,” Holverson said.
Noelle Micka got the Pack started in the first inning with a solid single to left field to lead off the frame. After Brittany Puzey struck out, Vanessa Briones drew a walk to bring Murdock to the plate. The freshman from Reno turned on a two-strike pitch and drove it over the left-field fence, just inside the pole, for a three-run shot.
“I had two strikes so I was just thinking See ball, hit ball,’” Murdock said. “I was swinging at anything in the zone and she threw me a changeup and I waited on it.”
The home run was Murdock’s eighth of the season, which is good enough for a tie for fourth on Nevada’s single-season charts. It was her first home run since April 3rd against Pacific.
Micka’s first-inning run gave her 42 for the season and she now has the school single-season record for runs in a season. She entered the game tied at 41 with Jiliane Hartfield (2004).
Holverson has now struck out seven or more batters in 10 of her last 11 starts.
Nevada has faced both UCLA and Cal State Fullerton this season as the Pack lost to the Bruins in the first game of the season and beat the Titans in the fifth game of the season.
Nevada will play at 3 p.m. on Saturday and the game will be carried on ESPNU. The winner advances to Sunday’s championship game while the loser will fall into the losers’ bracket and will have to play again on Saturday.
For more on the Nevada softball team and the NCAA Regional, visit www.nevadawolfpack.com and the Wolf Pack’s “NCAA Region Headquarters.” The online feature has stories, stats, photos and more, including a daily blog from senior infielder Kristin Stith.