Longhorns come from behind to beat North Carolina, Arkansas

Claire Cruz

Sophomore pitcher Paige von Sprecken didn’t have her dream Texas debut on Friday night.

The University of San Diego transfer struggled in Texas’ first game against UNC, but she was the star of its come-from-behind 7-6 victory over the Tar Heels on Saturday afternoon.

The roles were reversed as junior pitcher Tiarra Davis got the start, but after giving up five runs in 3.1 innings, von Sprecken came in to get the win in relief.

“It was good to see her be the hero,” head coach Connie Clark said. “She really came in and did a good job.”

Although her pitching was solid to end the game, von Sprecken’s offense is what carried Texas to victory.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, von Sprecken stepped up to the plate with her team down, 6-4, loaded bases and nobody out. She sent the ball straight to the left-center field wall for a game-winning, three-run double.  

“I just tried to get a base hit and score some runs,” von Sprecken said. “I felt like I saw [the pitcher] well my first at-bat, and I knew we needed a hit. We have so much fight; it’s amazing.”

After a 35 minute break, Texas faced off against Arkansas for the second game of its doubleheader. The Longhorns came from behind as they had in the previous two games to win, 6-5 in eight innings.

Sophomore pitcher Kristen Clark got the start for the Longhorns. She threw six scoreless innings and gave up just two hits before von Sprecken came into the game in a save situation to start the seventh.

Unfortunately, the pitching change didn’t have the desired effect and von Sprecken gave up back to back home runs that allowed Arkansas to take the lead, 3-2. Kristen Clark re-entered the game and sat down the first three batters she faced.

Junior left fielder Stephanie Wong hit a sacrifice fly to left field to tie the game at three and sent it to extra innings.

Kristen Clark came out to pitch in the eighth, but some questionable calls behind the plate caused her to momentarily lose composure. Texas gathered on the mount to calm her down and she managed to pitch out of a jam, but not before she walked in two runs to give Arkansas a 5-3 lead.

In accordance with their “prove them wrong” season motto, Texas fought back.

Junior designated player Celina Felix scored on a wild pitch and then senior second baseman Stephanie Ceo ripped a single to right field to tie the game. Junior infielder Kelli Hanzel’s single to second drove in the winning run.

“I was going up there just looking for a good hit,” Hanzel said. “I kept it simple, just a base hit. We’re just rolling with it right now.”

The Longhorns will play the last of their Texas Classic games on Sunday at 12 p.m. against North Dakota State.