The Texas Thunder returned to their winning ways on Thursday with a 12-4 victory over the Venezuelan National Team at Big League Dreams Sports Park in League City.
Venezuela jumped on the board first in the top of the second as centerfielder Ruby Rojas lined a base hit to left field with one out. Rojas then advanced to second on an illegal pitch by Thunder pitcher Christa Williams (UT). With one out, left fielder Mayret Perez chopped a ground ball to Thunder shortstop Adrian Gregory (Texas A&M) and was able to score Rojas from second on Gregorys throwing error to first. Venezuela moved ahead 1-0 with Pineda safe at first. Venezuela designated player Nidia Pineda then reached first on a single to right and Perez advanced to second. The runners moved ahead to second and third on a wild pitch by Williams but the Thunder closed out the inning on the next play as shortstop Yusmary Perez grounded out to Gregory at shortstop.
The Thunder could not answer in the bottom of the second as they went three up and three down to close out the inning. Venezuela followed suit in the top of the third as Williams struck out second baseman Zuleima Rodriguez followed up with ground out singles by third baseman Angelica Yrigoyen and first baseman Maria Soto to end the inning. Thunder again went three up and three down in the bottom of the third and Venezuela followed suit as well in the top of the fourth.
With Venezuela leading 1-0 in the bottom of the fourth, Thunder would score three runs to move ahead 3-1. First baseman Amanda Freed (UCLA) lead off with an infield single to the shortstop. Left fielder Kim Nesloney (UH) then laid down the sacrifice bunt to advance her to second. Freed moved to third on centerfielder Kristen Zaleskis (Texas State) single in the five, six hole. With one out and Freed on third, Zaleski stole second and Freed scored on a wild throw-down by the catcher. Zaleski then stole third in the same play and Thunder tied the score at 1-1. Thunder then moved ahead as third baseman Clare Burnum (Oregon State) laid down the squeeze to score Zaleski from third. Burnum advanced to second base on the play and then moved to third on the next at bat with second baseman Lindsay Gardners (UT) single to left field. Gardner advanced to second on her hit and with one out and runners on second and third, Venezuelan starter Mariangee Bogado intentionally walked designated player Monica Garza (Tarleton State). With the bases loaded, Gregory chopped a ground ball up the middle for a fielders choice and Rodriguez tagged second base on the play. But the grounder scored Burnum from third to put the score at 3-1. With two outs and Gardner at third, Gregory stole second and catcher Denise Dahlberg (Hawaii) walked to load the bases. Right fielder Julie Watson (CSF) then popped up to the catcher in the next at bat to end the inning with Thunder ahead 3-1.
The game moved into the top of the fifth and Venezuela could not answer as Williams retired the first three batters with two strikeouts and a ground out. Thunder increased their lead in the bottom of the inning as they added four more runs. Freed lead off with a triple to right field but Nesloney followed with a strikeout. With Freed on third, Zaleski reached first on a walk and then stole second in the next at bat. Burnum then plated Freed on her next at bat with a single to right field and Gardner followed suit with a single of her own to score Zaleski. With Gardner and Burnum aboard, Garza hit into a 6-3 fielders choice to score Burnum from third. Gregory then followed with a single to left field to plate Gardner but Dahlberg lined out to the shortstop to end the inning. Thunder closed out the fifth with a score of 7-1.
Venezuela answered in the top of the sixth as Yrigoyen reached first safely and then advanced to second on a throwing error by Gardner at second base. Soto followed with a base hit to left field and the runners moved to second and third during the play. Catcher Zuleyma Cirimele then lined a single to center field to score Yrigoyen from third. Rojas followed with a triple to right but was thrown out on the play. Soto and Civimele scored on the hit and Venezuela added three runs with a score of 7-4. Pineda struck out during the next at bat to close out the inning.
Thunder would then answer in the sixth with five more runs to move ahead 12-4. Pinch hitter Karrie Rider (Mississippi State) led off with a single to right and Freed followed with a single to centerfield. With runners on first and second, Nesloney reached first on a hit by pitch and with no outs, Zaleski plated Rider with a single of her own. Burnum then followed with a walk to score Freed from third. In the next at bat, Gardner doubled to left field to plate Zaleski and Nesloney but Burnum was thrown out at third as she overran third base on the play. Gardner then advanced to third and eventually scored on two straight illegal pitches. With a score of 12-4 the Thunder closed out the sixth with two fielders choices by both Watson and Freed.
After issuing a lead off walk in the top of the seventh, Williams closed out the seventh inning with two back-to-back fielders choices and a ground out. With a final score of 12-4 the Thunder improved to 12-8 in regular season play and Williams increased her win total to 7 with a record of 7-3. Williams also added eight strikeouts on the night to put her in first place as the league leader. The Thunder will battle the Venezuelan National Team for game two tomorrow at 7 p.m. as part of a four game regular season series at Big League Dreams Sports Park in League City.
Venezuela 010 003 4 5 1
Thunder 000 345 12 14 2