Houston, Texas-- Thunder ace Christa Williams (UT) paced her team with eleven strikeouts and third baseman Clare Burnum (Oregon State) provided the offense with twelve RBIs as the Thunder picked up the win in the series opener against the Phoenix Flames.
The Thunder sent seven hitters to the plate to score three runs in the bottom of the first to get on the board first in this series opener. Burnum continued her heavy hitting as she laced a triple down the right field line to plate two runs. With the squeeze on, second baseman Lindsay Gardner (UT) missed on the attempt, but Burnum scored anyway as the throw from the rundown tipped off the glove of the Flames catcher. Thunder closed out the inning with a 3-0 lead.
Burnum nearly matched her hitting from her first at bat as she provided three more RBIs in the bottom of the second inning. With three runners aboard, Burnum lofted a deep fly ball into the left field gap to score all three runs for her second RBI triple of the night. Thunder ended the inning with a score of 6-0.
Thunder added another run in the bottom of the third as right fielder Julie Watson (CSF) collected her second hit and earned her first RBI of the season. With shortstop Adrian Gregory (Texas A&M) aboard with a single, Watson slapped a single to left field to score the run. Thunder closed out the inning with a 7-0 lead.
Thunder maintained their offense into the following innings as they added three runs in the fourth, and three more in the fifth. Burnum collected her third triple of the night as she scored both Evans and Zaleski to close out the Thunder fourth, 10-0. In the fifth, Evans singled to score catcher Denise Dahlberg (Hawaii) and Watson collected her third hit of the night, and eventually scored to keep her perfect plate appearance alive. Burnum then set a new league and team record as she got her fourth triple and her eleventh RBI, scoring Zaleski from second.
The Flames added their own offense in the sixth as Thunder reliever Jamie Falco made her professional debut in the top of the sixth inning. Third baseman Dannielle Votrian and first baseman Jessica Ellison reached safely on an error and fielders choice. Catcher Liz Beyer then singled to right to score both runners as two throwing errors were committed on the play. Thunder finally recorded three outs and ended the threat with a score of 13-2.
Thunder answered with their final runs in the sixth as Evans plated first baseman Karrie Rider (Mississippi State) on a fielders choice and Zaleski scored pinch hitter Crystal Krebs (UCCS) on an error by the third baseman. Burnum then collected her fourth hit of the night and her twelfth RBI as she singled to plate Gregory. Thunder closed out the sixth with a final score of 16-2.
Falco collected the final three outs in the seventh to collect her first save of the season and move her team to 16-8 in league play. With the win, Williams moved to 9-3 on the season and Serena Settlemeir took the loss for the Flames. Thunder increased their current winning streak to five games as they look to take on Phoenix again for game two of this four game series, Friday, July 15 at 7:00 p.m. at Big League Dreams in League City.