Graham’s grand slam lifts UTSA past I-35 rival Texas State, 6-0, in WAC Tournament opener
RUSTON, La. — Jolene Graham’s third-inning grand slam gave No. 5 seed UTSA a 5-0 lead and it never looked back in a 6-0 vctory against fourth-seeded Texas State in Wednesday's opening game of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Tournament.
Graham finished the contest 1-for-3 with a career-high four RBIs, while Megan Low and Samantha Beeson each drove in a run for the Roadrunners (27-24), who now will face WAC Regular Season Champion San Jose State (39-15) at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday.
Haylee Staton (15-9) went the distance in the circle and scattered seven hits to go along with a pair of walks and three strikeouts to tie a career high with her 15th victory of the season. The Austin native picked up her third win against the Bobcats this season and the Birds won their fourth consecutive game against their I-35 rivals.
Kelli Baker and Brooke Baker each finished with two hits to pace Texas State (16-37), which will play in an elimination game at 7 p.m. on Thursday.
After going hitless in the first two innings, Paige Hamilton got the five-run rally started with a single to left center and she moved up 60 feet following Darian Blake’s infield hit. Courtney Buchman then worked the count full before drawing a walk to load the bases. UTSA took a 1-0 lead one batter later when Rayne House walked Low. Graham followed by taking House’s 0-1 pitch over the fence in left center to push the lead to 5-0. The blast, which was the Roadrunners’ second grand slam of the campaign, was her fourth home run of the season and her third in the last four games.
That proved to be more than enough for Staton, who blanked the Bobcats and now has not allowed an earned run against them in 19 innings pitched this season.
Texas State threatened in the fifth when Baker opened the frame with a double to right. The Bobcats loaded the bases with one out after a walk and an error, but Staton got out of the jam when Anna Hernandez lined into a double play.
Beeson extended the lead to a half dozen in the seventh with a two-out single to right that plated Siera Sproul, who reached base on a double to right center, to provide the final margin.
House (7-17) lasted just two innings and allowed five runs on three hits and four walks. Reliever Ashley Wright tossed the final five frames and gave up a run on four hits to go along with a pair of strikeouts.