Halbert’s Complete Game Shutouts Lifts #1 WT Past Grand Valley State in the CWS Opener, 4-0
DENVER, Colorado – West Texas A&M sophomore right hander Kilee Halbert registered her 19th complete game of the season including her fifth shutout as the top ranked Lady Buffs scored four runs in the fourth inning and never looked back as they topped the Lakers of Grand Valley State, 4-0 in front of over 350 fans at the Regeney Athletic Complex in Denver, Colorado during the 2016 DII College World Series as a part of the DII Spring Sports Festival. The Lady Buffs move to 59-3 overall while the Lakers fall to 43-12 on the season.
“We talked all week about the first game being crucial to staying on the winners side of the bracket, having the chance to come out the first game of the day and play well is really big moving forward” said WT head coach Kevin Blaskowski “Kilee was a little nervous to start the game but she really settled in and we had some big hits by Brittany and Shea in that third game to give us a lead.”
The Lady Buffs took the momentum early as the visitors on the scoreboard as Brittany Gehle walked on four pitches to leadoff the game followed by an Andrea Sitter before Shea Ibrahim layed down a perfect sac bunt to move the runners up 60 feet but Grand Valley's Ellie Balbach responded with a pair of strikeouts to end the inning. GVSU wasted little time on their first base runner as Teagan Shomin was hit by a pitch to start the frame but Kilee Halbert responded with her first strikeout, the Lakers registered a full count walk to put two runners on before the sophomore forced a popup to Brittany Gehle in shallow left before another full count walk loaded the bases but Halbert's second strikeout of the inning ended the frame at 0-0.
WT looked to take the lead in the top of the second as Kourtney Coveney walked with one out followed by a Brittany Cruz single to center field, the freshman stole second with two outs followed by another Gehle walk to load the bases but a grounder to first ended the inning still scoreless. Shannon Fleherty started off the home half of the second with a double to the left center field gap followed by a sac bunt to move the runner to third but Halbert responded with a strikeout, another Lakers walk put runners on the corners before a ground ball to Ibrahim at the hot corner ended the inning, 0-0.
The Lakers put runners on the corners with two outs in the home half of the third before the Dalhart native finished the frame herself with a ground ball back to the circle. Allie Smith singles to right center to start the fourth followed by a Coveney single to left, Balbach forced a fielder's choice grounder to third before a Laker's throwing error on a Cruz grounder to the circle scored Coveney to make it 1-0. The Lady Buffs weren't gone yet as Gehle doubled to the right center field alley to score two and knock Balbach from the game, Sara Andrasik entered and registered an out before Ibrahim doubled off of the left field wall to score Gehle to run the WT lead to 4-0.
GVSU looked to rally with two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning as Shomin singled to left field followed by a Kaylie Rhynard bunt single in front of the plate before Halbert forced a ground ball to Ibrahim at third to head to the fifth with WT leading 4-0. The teams traded zeroes headed to the bottom of the seventh as the Lakers registered a pair of hits with one out but Halbert wouldn't be denied as she registered her fifth strikeout followed by a popup in foul territory to Shayne Starkey at first to end the game, 4-0.
Halbert registered her 19th complete game and fifth shutout of the season as the sophomore right hander moved to 27-2, she allowed no runs on seven hits with four walks and five strikeouts The Lady Buffs will now await the winner of #5 Humboldt State and #16 Armstrong State in a winner’s bracket matchup tomorrow at 1 p.m. CT from the Regency Athletic Complex in Denver.