UT Tyler opens South Central Regional with 5-2 win over Saint Mary’s

TYLER, TEXAS – Five runs in the bottom half of the third inning pushed UT Tyler to a 5-2 victory over no. 7 seeded St. Mary’s in game one of the 2024 NCAA Division II South Central Regional Tournament.

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The Patriots had four of their six hits in the third inning alone, putting across five unanswered runs to advance to the winner’s bracket of the South Central Regional in which they will meet no. 3 seeded Colorado Christian at 12 p.m. on Friday. Colorado Christian advanced in game two on Thursday afternoon with a 3-1 victory over no. 6 seeded Colorado Mesa.

Graduate student Courtney Plocheck had a historic afternoon for the Patriots, breaking the UT Tyler softball career hits record with the 269th of her career with an RBI single in the bottom of the third. Plocheck betters Ashley Perez’s career mark of 268 from 2018-22 and finished Thursday’s win 2-for-4 at the plate.

Starter Genesis Armendariz collected the victory, scattering five hits across 5.1 innings. The Hobbs, N.M. native conceded just a single earned run before turning the ball over to junior Christian Haygood in the top of the sixth inning, who retired all five batters she faced.

UT Tyler stranded three runners on in their first two trips to the plate before finally breaking through in the home half of the third. Junior Sam Schott scored after leading off the inning with a single up the middle on Plocheck’s record-breaking single to left.

A fielder’s choice with the bases loaded after one of three Rattler errors in the inning put a second run on the board for UT Tyler. Junior Clarissa Zapata drove the third run in with a single to center in the ensuing at bat.

The third error of the inning for St. Mary’s allowed freshman Makayla Garcia to score from third to make it 4-0, and a Michelle Arias rocket shot to the pitcher drove in Zapata for the fifth Patriot run of the inning.

Armendariz worked around a leadoff single by the Rattlers in the top of the fourth before St. Mary’s finally broke through in the top of the fifth with an unearned run of their own on an RBI single up the middle.

Back-to-back hits for St. Mary’s in the sixth, the latter of which a double that scored a run to make it 5-2, brought on Haygood with one out on the board. Haygood stuckout the first batter she faced and then popped up the third out of the inning.

The Huffman, Texas native worked through a clean top of the seventh inning to pick up her fourth save of the year.

Plocheck was the lone batter in either lineup to record a multi-hit outing and was one of four different Patriots to drive in an RBI In the game.

St. Mary’s will meet Colorado Mesa in the first elimination game of the tournament at 2:30 p.m. tomorrow after following the UT Tyler and Colorado Christian game at 12 p.m.

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