UT pitchers start strong, help extend streak to eight

Sara Beth Purdy

Texas fans have been getting used to easy ball games brought to them by record-setting play by the 13th ranked Longhorns. But this weekend, they saw a different side of the Texas defense in the two games the Longhorns played in the Time Warner Cable Texas Invitational.

Junior pitchers Kim Bruins and Blaire Luna fought through difficult weather and came out with a pair of wins.

Bruins started against Pittsburgh Friday. Due to a thunderstorm in the area, that game was delayed until Saturday afternoon. On Friday, Bruins had a successful night by holding the Panthers to no hits while striking out two. Backed by a strong showing from the Texas offense, the Longhorns led 6-0 at the top of the third, when the game was called due to rain.

On Saturday, the Longhorns had to rely more on Bruins' arm when the Panthers struck with a two-run home run in the top of the fourth. But Bruins regrouped and continued to shut down Pittsburgh's offense before rain ended the game. Bruins pitched a total of five innings with three strike outs while only giving up two runs on two hits.

“[Bruins] did a great job. I am sure she is disappointed, she probably left the ball a little over the plate and hitters at this level are good,” said Texas head coach Connie Clark. “That is one thing she does so well. She competes … She came back and went right back at them.”

The 7-2 win against the Panthers marks the Bruins' second win of the season. Her overall record is now 2-0 with a season ERA of 1.40.

Luna got the nod to start on Sunday against Tennessee. Luna entered the weekend with a 3-0 record and had yet to allow a run. The All-American has had an easy time against opponents this season with only five hits and 30 strike outs. However, against a talented Tennessee team, Luna struggled a bit, but came up solid when it mattered.

In the top of the fifth, the Volunteers took advantage of some mistakes by Luna and came up with two hits and one run. Overall, Luna gave up six hits, one more than she had in all her previous games combined, and two runs while compiling 13 strike outs. In addition, Luna pitched a full nine innings, two more than a regulation softball game and four more than the Longhorns have been used to all season, having run-ruled many of their previous opponents.

“She has really good stuff,” Clark said of Luna. “Dominating at this level is … learning to put away hitters sooner. The biggest thing I am looking for is that consistent presence.”