Extra innings are where teams show their mental toughness and mettle on the diamond; the Longhorns showed theirs prevailing in the eighth inning 2-1 over UTSA.
“Our team has so much heart, I have so much confidence in our team, our pitchers have confidence in our team that no matter what we’re going to pull it out — we just have the heart and the confidence in ourselves that we can do it,” said freshman Taylor Thom.
Texas went into the bottom of the eight tied up with UTSA, and when it needed to the offense finally woke up.
Thom started off the inning with a single straight up the middle into center field to get the rally going. Then Amy Hooks came up big with a single of her own into right field, and both runners were advanced to second and third, respectively, on a Nadia Taylor sacrifice bunt. Torie Schmidt was the next hitter for the team and, as it turned out, the last one the Longhorns needed. She hit a grounder to the second baseman who was playing deep and could not get the throw home in time; Thom was breaking for the plate on contact and scored just in time.
“We knew we would win it, we just had to string together some hits, and we did it in the last inning,” Taylor said.
Despite the win, Texas seemed to struggle throughout the game to make solid contact on all three of the UTSA pitchers, especially the starter Danyé Holmes. Holmes only gave up one run and three hits in the first five innings — the run she gave up was unearned.
“We could have made better adjustment off of Holmes, and we didn’t make quite as good as adjustments as we have in the past. She threw a good game,” said Texas head coach Connie Clark.
After Holmes left the game the team continued to struggle a little until the eighth, when they were finally able to push across the winning run. Part of this struggle at the plate can be attributed to the fact that Texas was a bit fatigued after a long trip back from Lubbock on the weekend and the quick turnaround for this game. The struggle is particularly evident when you look at the numbers at the plate: The Longhorns had 18 hits in both games against Tech, but against a weaker team on paper in UTSA they only managed six, with two of those coming in extra innings.
“These mid-week games are definitely a grind, after coming off a long weekend of traveling, and then coming back out here to play UTSA, it’s a gut check,” Thom said.
However the pitching staff, in the form of Rachel Fox, tonight continued to shine. She scattered seven hits, most of them bloopers, along with striking out a career high 13 batters. Her only run allowed in the game was a bit of a soft one two, as UTSA scored on a throwing error.
“I was disappointed by the little bloop hits they got, I’m not really used to seeing seven hits on the scoreboard, and the off-speed was working,” Fox said. “We were deceiving the batters and it was just an overall good night.”
Texas will look to carry over the momentum they gained from in this game into a tough road test in Waco against the 17th-ranked Baylor Bears.