Texas softball shuts down Baylor for win in Big 12 opener

Jacob Martella

One of the hardest things for a young player to do is limit one bad play from becoming two or three bad plays.

But freshman pitcher Tiarra Davis has shown the ability this season to bounce right back after a bad play and she proved that again Saturday. After not allowing a hit through the first three innings, Davis gave up a solo home run to start the bottom of the fourth inning, cutting the Texas lead to 3-1 at the time.

But Davis went on to down the next three batters and allowed only one other hit the rest of the way to help the Longhorns defeat the No. 12 Baylor Bears, 4-1, to open Big 12 play.

“With this being the start of conference play, I went out with the mindset that this is a clean start,” Davis said.

The first three innings went smoothly for Davis in the circle. She struck out the first two batters of the game and the only base runner came on a two-out walk in the third.

But to start the fourth inning, Davis went to a full count against second baseman Ari Hawkins. Hawkins hit the next pitch over the wall in the center field.

Despite giving up the home run, head coach Connie Clark went out to the circle to tell Davis that was what they needed.

“[Davis] was behind in the count and the only thing that beats you when you’re up three to nothing is if you start issuing the free passes,” Clark said.

Davis, as she’s done all season, settled down after that, retiring the next three batters in the inning. In the sixth, Davis gave up a two-out walk and an error which placed runners at the corners, but got a fly out to right to end the threat.

“I knew they were going to hit the ball and then finally [Hawkins] hit the ball, so I reset and just moved on,” Davis said.

At the plate, the Longhorns (19-15, 1-0 Big 12) threatened to score in each of the first three innings, getting a runner to second, but failed to break the scoreless tie; however, in the fourth inning, freshman left fielder Stephanie Wong reached on a bunt hit and sophomore first baseman Holly Kern reached on an error, setting up Texas with runners on second and third with one out.

After a foul out by Davis, senior catcher Mandy Ogle finally opened the scoring with a three-run shot to right field.

“She saw the ball extremely well today,” Clark said.

Texas added another run in the top of the seventh inning when Davis singled up the middle to score Wong.

After a tough non-conference schedule, which saw the Longhorns have win streaks of four and six games and losing streaks of four and five games, Texas starts the conference season 1-0 for the seventh straight season. Clark said the game bodes well for them going into the rest of Big 12 play.

“The ‘practice’ games are over and it’s about chasing championships,” Clark said.

Texas and Baylor (23-5, 0-1) will meet in the final game of the two-game series Sunday at 6 p.m.