FRESNO, Calif. - The speed of Haley Gilleland, power of Courtney Moore, arm of Michelle Moses and a host of spectacular defensive efforts helped Fresno State eliminate defending Western Athletic Conference champion Hawai'i 2-1 on Thursday night at Bulldog Diamond.
"We knew we had our backs against the wall," head coach Margie Wright said. "Everyone was relaxed and focused. We started off great with Haley's triple and went from there. They are good ball players and knew what they had to do. They have a lot of guts and they showed that."
Gilleland smacked a game-opening triple to the right field alley and scored moments later when Andrea Ortega lifted a sacrifice fly to quickly push the Dogs - who were the designated visiting team - in front for an early 1-0 lead.
Moore extended Fresno State's lead to 2-0 with a sixth-inning rainbow solo shot over the right field chain-linked fence.
Junior pitcher Michelle Moses contained a potent Hawai'i offense and allowed only a run in the sixth as the Dogs cruised to the 2-1 victory.
"There was no pressure going into today," said the four-year starting shortstop Gilleland. "You just go in and do well. Moore's home run won the ball game for us."
"Every at bat I want to do the best I can," said Moore. "We knew what to do today and Haley started us off strong."
While Moore's homer proved to be the difference, the Bulldogs' defensive brilliance were just as key - especially two incredible catches by Ortega and a pair of sixth-inning web gems that halted a late Hawai'i comeback bid.
Second-team All-WAC second baseman Brooke Ortiz made a diving catch and quickly flipped to Gilleland for a double play and Caitlin Stiglich pulled in a foul ball near the first base dugout to end the frame.
"Our effort was better," said Wright. "Dre (Ortega) made great plays in left field and her catch was major league. Caitlin Stiglich catching that pop up after the collision was key. She gutted it out and did a great job."
No. 3 Fresno State will face No. 6 Louisiana Tech at 4:30 p.m. in an elimination game and a rematch of Wednesday's tournament opener that the Lady Techsters won 2-0 behind a strong pitching performance by senior Meghan Krieg.
"We are taking it one game at a time and are prepared for everyone," said Wright.
"We Are You Team!" - Fresno State is hosting the 2011 Western Athletic Conference Tournament until May 14. Tickets are available by calling 278-DOGS or visiting the 2011 WAC Tournament Central. You can always stay connected with Fresno State Athletics on Facebook and Twitter (@FSAthletics).
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