TUCSON, ARIZ The Arizona Heat completed their first series win against a National Pro Fastpitch team with an 8-4 victory over the Texas Thunder. Unlike the first three games of the series, tonights game was dominated by the batters. The Heat delivered eleven hits on their way to eight runs. Erica Beach picked up her fifteenth win of the season by tossing four strong innings and allowing only two earned runs.
Beach started and went four innings, allowing five hits and three runs two earned while striking out two. Dana Sorensen relieved Beach and picked up her first save of the season by allowing only one run in three innings of work. Amanda Freed started for the Thunder but did not fair as well as Friday night, allowing seven runs four earned in four innings of work. She surrendered ten hits, one walk and struck out five.
The first two innings of tonights game looked like it would be another low scoring, pitcher dominated game. However, in the third that notion was removed. The Thunder struck first getting a run in the top of the inning on a RBI ground out. Karrie Rider led off with a single and was sacrificed over to second by Lindsay Gardner. Erin Evans followed with a single that moved the lead runner to third. With runners on the corner, Kim Nesloney hit a chopper to shortstop that scored the Thunders first run.
The bottom of the inning was much different for the Heat, equaling their run output in the previous three games. After Freed struck out the first batter, Ladonia Hughes drew a walk and Lauren Bauer singled to left. With two runners on, Cheryl Schaefer dropped a single into center to load the bases. Nichole Thompson followed with a grounder to shortstop that was bobbled, allowing the tying run to score. Next batter, Stacey Nuveman hit a ground ball that was thrown off base runner, Lauren Bauers head and past the catcher. Schaefer used the opportunity to score from third and give the Heat a 3-1 lead. After a fielders choice, Tairia Flowers doubled to the wall in left centerfield scoring the fourth run of the inning.
The fourth was much of the same for the two offenses, with the Thunder getting two runs back. Amanda Freed led off with a single, but was thrown out on a groundout by Kristen Zaleski. Zaleski then stole second to give the Thunder a runner in scoring position. Two batters later, Adrian Gergory singled home Zaleski cutting the Heat lead to 4-2. Lindsay Gardner followed with a single and Gregory came around to score on an error.
With the Heat lead down to one, the offense would look to add some insurance runs. Lovie Jung led off with a double off the top of the fence. After Jung was sacrificed to third, Freed got Lauren Bauer to strike out swinging. With a Jung still on third and two outs, the Heat would rattle off five straight singles, plating three runs. Schaefer started the streak with a single scoring Jung. Nichole Thompson singled Schaefer over to third, who came around to score on Nuvemans single up the middle. Toni Mascarenas singled to load the bases, and Tairia Flowers drove in a run with a single to left field. The Heat left the bases loaded in the inning, but not until they scored three runs to push the lead to 7-3.
The Heat would add another run in the bottom of the fifth off relief pitcher Piper Marten on a sacrifice fly by Cheryl Schaefer. Dana Sorensen, now in for the Heat would retire the Thunder without incident until the seventh inning. The Thunder would get one run back, but ultimately fall short on the night. Karrie Rider led off with a single and was driven home on a double by Lindsay Gardner. Sorensen would settle down getting Kim Nesloney to line into a double play to end the game.
Tairia Flowers led the Heat offense on the night, going three for three with a double and two RBIs. Cheryl Schaefer and Love Jung would add two hits apiece. Schaefer also finished with two runs scored and two RBIs. Stacey Nuveman and Nichole Thompson each finished with a hit and an RBI in the win. Nuveman pushed her hitting streak up to nine games.
Karrie Rider went three for three in the loss for the Thunder and Erin Evans added a pair of hits. Lindsay Gardber, Kim Nesloney and Adrian Gregory accounted for the three Thunder RBIs on the evening.
The Heat will travel to Chicago next week to face the Bandits for a four game series starting Thursday. They will enter the final week of the season half a game behind the New York Juggernaut for the final playoff spot.