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HEAT DROPS FIRST OF FOUR TO FIRST PLACE THUNDERArizona remains two games back thanks to California win

HOUSTON, Texas – The Arizona Heat came to Texas riding a three-game winning streak at the hands of the California Sunbirds, but they dropped the opening game of the four game series by a final score of 1-0.

Wednesday night’s game was being played as a makeup from the July 17 halted game. The two teams were only able to get through one batter before severe wind and rain forced the suspension of the game.

When the two teams returned to action, it was the Texas Thunder who would threaten first. Texas began the game with a runner on first, as Kristen Zaleski (2-for-3) opened the July 17 game with a single, with sharp-hitting Lindsay Gardner (1-for-2) at the plate. Gardner would also reach base by way of a single, but she would advance no further than second base thanks in large part to a poor base running decision by Zaleski and timely pitching by Arizona starter Erica Beach (6-5).

Beach would settle in after the Gardner single by retiring 14 of the next 16 batters she would face. Beach finished the game by allowing five hits and walking three to go along with her four strikeouts.

But in the top of the sixth inning, Zaleski got the Thunder going again with a lined double into the outfield. After advancing to third on a sacrifice bunt by Gardner and a walk to Clare Burnum, designated player Ryan Realmuto (1-for-2, RBI) delivered the only RBI of the game with a hard single to right field.

The Heat had several chances to get on the board in the game, as they stranded six runners on base, including two runners that reached second base with no outs. Jodi Otten was the big hitter on the night for the Heat, she finished the game 2-for-3 including a double to leadoff the game. The only other player to register a hit in the game for Arizona was Sara Pickering. Her hit was an infield hit that ricocheted off of the Texas pitcher.

Texas pitcher Marissa Young (3-2) pitched effectively all night allowing only three hits while striking out six. She went a stretch where she retired four consecutive hitter, including Lisha Ribellia (0-for-3, 3 K) looking with two on in the bottom of the first inning.

Even with the loss, the Heat remains just 2.0 games behind the New England Riptide for the final playoff spot in the 2004 playoffs. The Riptide lost for the fourth consecutive game on Wednesday night, dropping a 6-2 extra inning game with the California Sunbirds. The two will square off again on Thursday night in Stockton, Calif.

The Thunder and Heat will play a doubleheader tomorrow night beginning at 6 p.m. CDT. All Thunder home games are played at the University of Houston’s Cougar Softball Stadium.

For information on the Heat or for ticket information, visit the official team website at www.tucsonsoftball.com or call 520-296-9595. Tickets for the Heat are available for purchase at the Hi Corbett Field Box Office and can be purchased for $3-11.

National Pro Fastpitch is the only professional women’s fastpitch league in the United States. The league is headquartered in Denver, and has been in operation since 1997 under the names Women’s Pro Fastpitch (WPF) and Women’s Professional Softball League (WPSL).

-NPF-