Thunder and Zaleski Dominate Flames
Houston, Texas-- Piper Marten (Minnesota) made her first professional start tonight as she took the mound against the Phoenix Flames in game two of this four game series at Big League Dreams Sports Park in League City. Thunder notched their sixth consecutive win behind Marten's four strikeouts over four innings of work, to improve to 17-8 in regular season play.
Thunder continued to overpower the Flames at the plate as they relied on consistent hitting and aggressive base running. Centerfielder Kristen Zaleski's (Texas State) hustle highlighted the first inning as she scored from second on a wild pitch and second baseman Lindsay Gardner (UT) followed with a double to right to score third baseman Clare Burnum (Oregon State). Thunder's overall smothering offense sent a total of seven hitters to the plate to score three runs in the first frame to take the lead, 3-0.
Thunder added two more runs in the second as right fielder Julie Watson (CSF) and catcher Crystal Krebs (UCCS) highlighted the inning with their own aggressive base running. Designated player Erin Evans' (OU) sacrifice bunt proved a tough out for the Flames, as the pitcher threw the ball past the outstretched glove of third base, to score both Watson and Krebs, giving the Thunder a 5-0 lead.
Both teams added a run to their score in the fourth as Phoenix jumped on the board with a score of 6-1. This would prove to be Phoenix's only run of the game. Defensively the inning was highlighted by "ESPN HIGHLIGHT" catch by Zaleski who saved her team from giving up a 2-run homerun to right-center as she made a daredevil diving catch while crashing through the fence. WOW!!! It brought everyone to their feet.
Thunder pitcher Mayumi Murakami (Mt. Sac) came on in relief to shut out the side in the fifth, as well as the sixth and seventh. Thunder continued with their hard hitting offense as they exploded in the fifth for nine runs on eight hits to increase their lead to 15-1. Burnum added to her RBI total as she laced another triple into the left field gap to plate two runs. The extra base knock marks Burnum's fifth triple in just two games.
Thunder added four more runs in the sixth as left fielder Kim Nesloney (UH) and Zaleski drove in two runs a piece on two RBI singles to close out the inning with a final score of 19-1. Murakami retired the next three batters to finish the game, earn the save, and improve the Thunder's record to over five hundred.
Thunder will look to take the series and continue their winning streak as they take on the Phoenix Flames again for game three of this four game series, Saturday, July 16 at 7:00 p.m. at Big League Dreams Sports Park in League City.
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National Pro Fastpitch Stories from July 15, 2005
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