Horns Fall Late to Kentucky in Texas Classic Final

Jacob Martella

The championship game of the Texas Classic summed up the weekend for the Longhorns.

Behind a three-run home run from senior catcher Mandy Ogle, Texas battled back to tie Kentucky in the fourth inning after falling behind 5-1 early on.

But the Wildcats scored on an error by senior shortstop Taylor Thom with the bases loaded to win 6-5 and take first place in the tournament. The Longhorns (6-6) finished the weekend with a 2-3 record.

Kentucky took the early lead off of a Ginny Carroll solo home run and an RBI single by Emily Jolly in the second, but Texas cut the deficit in the bottom of the inning to 2-1 after a solo home run from sophomore right fielder Lindsey Stephens.

The Wildcats pulled ahead in the top half of the third on a three-run home run by Lauren Cumbess; however, the Longhorns would battle back an inning later, with Ogle’s home run and a hit batter with the bases loaded to tie the game.

Freshman pitcher Tiarra Davis, who struck out eight but gave up four walks in the losing effort, said the comeback says a lot about the team learning.

“I think we’re pretty young, but I think we’re figuring some things out,” Davis said.

The Longhorns got off to a slow start Friday scoring only six runs against Kentucky and IPFW. Kentucky pitcher Kelsey Nunley held Texas to only four runs, all of which came in the seventh inning, and struck out five while the Wildcats capitalized on two errors and a two-run home run to take a 6-4 win.

In the night game, IPFW pitcher Miranda Kramer found similar success against Texas, striking out 12 Longhorn batters and forcing them to leave nine runners on base. With the game tied at one, the Mastodons scored twice in the top of the eighth and held the Longhorns to only one run in the bottom of the inning to secure a 3-2 win.

After the two losses, head coach Connie Clark said they talked with the players about getting back to “Texas softball.”

“That means you’re relentless and you have fun and you keep it simple,” Clark said.

The talk worked as the Longhorns offense came alive on Saturday.

Texas started fast with five straight hits, including three doubles, en route to a five-run first inning against Louisiana Tech. Freshmen pitchers Lauren Slatten and Tiarra Davis combined to give up only two runs while striking out seven batters in the 7-2 win.

The hit parade continued for Texas in the second game of the day against IPFW. The Longhorns scored in every inning and scored three in the fourth and fifth innings to take a 10-2 run-rule win in the semifinal match up. Junior pitcher Gabby Smith had a complete game two-hitter with no earned runs.

Texas will continue play this coming weekend at the Mary Nutter Classic in Palm Springs, Calif., with the biggest game coming against No. 3 Washington on Friday.