Leahy leads Texas to walk-off win

Claire Cruz

There’s something about trailing at Red & Charline McCombs Field that gets No. 25 Texas going.

The Longhorns (15–3) have a knack for coming from behind at home, as they showed again Tuesday evening. They trailed UTSA heading to the bottom of the sixth before some timely hits earned them a 3-2 win and their fifth walk-off victory of the season. 

“The atmosphere from being at our home field helps,” sophomore pinch hitter Randel Leahy said. “We’re defending our turf, and we’re not going to let a team beat us on our home field.” 

The Longhorns got on the board in the first behind a lead-off single from senior center fielder Lindsey Stephens. A stolen base and a single got Stephens to third, and she crossed the plate due to an error by UTSA’s senior catcher Tess Soefje.  

Through the next four innings, however, Texas didn’t record a single hit as junior pitcher Chelsea Parker sent the Longhorns down in order every frame. 

“We have to make quicker adjustments,” head coach Connie Clark said. “We’re missing on that a little bit and we have to be better. We’ll come back to work and continue to battle through those things.” 

UTSA took the lead in the top of the sixth with help from some Texas miscues. Sophomore pitcher Paige von Sprecken loaded the bases behind three walks before being replaced by junior lefty Tiarra Davis. Davis struck out the first batter she faced, but then UTSA’s junior first baseman Angelica Niño came up to bat.

Niño ripped a grounder to shortstop that freshman first baseman Christina Bardwell couldn’t handle, and the error scored two UTSA runs. Bardwell replaced junior Devon Tunning at short after Tunning got hurt in a collision in the second. She received stitches on her left hand and is expected to return soon. 

Texas tied the game up at 2-2 in the sixth. Stephens ripped a lead-off triple to center field, and junior left fielder Stephanie Wong drove her in with a single to right. 

Leahy entered the game as a pinch hitter in the eighth with the bases loaded and one out. With a 1-1 count against her, she sent a walk-off single to right field to win the game.

“Honestly, I was just having fun up there,” Leahy said. “My coaches weren’t putting pressure on me; they just said, ‘You can do this,’ and that was the best part because I was able to enjoy it and I wasn’t stressed.” 

Sophomore pitcher Kristen Clark got the start in the circle, but only threw 43 pitches as she continues to recovery from an arm injury. The three hurlers combined for 12 strikeouts and gave up just five hits. Davis (10–2) earned the win.

“We just have to keep playing resilient,” Clark said. “We have to get consumed with what we’re doing, how we’re going about our business and play Texas softball.”