Texas defense shines in victory over Kansas

Steve Helwick

Under 24 hours after getting run-ruled at home by the University of Kansas, the Longhorns fired back with vengeance, striking for eight hits and six runs to take a 6-0 win over the Jayhawks on Sunday to win the series.

The Longhorn offense blew the game open the in the fourth inning. After Kansas’ pitchers senior Monique Wesley and freshman Alexis Reid combined to walk three consecutive batters, Texas loaded the bases in front of a home crowd of nearly one thousand.

A batter later, Texas senior center fielder Lindsey Stephens smashed the ball past the right center field wall at Red and Charline McCombs Field to extend the Longhorns’ lead to 5-0. Stephens recorded her 40th career home run — the second-most in Texas history — and fifth career grand slam on the play. 

“I was very happy they made that pitching change,” Stephens said of the home run. “I got a pitch I liked and hit it very well. It definitely gave a confidence booster, a security blanket — loosened things up.”

The bases reloaded quickly after the grand slam with two base hits and another one of Kansas’ six walks. The defensive calamities persisted for the Jayhawks, and senior outfielder Holly Kern was able to steal home plate for a 6-0 lead on a dropped pitch by the catcher.

Texas junior ace Tiarra Davis threw her fourth complete shutout of the season. She struck out eight batters, including a stretch in the third and fourth innings where she retired four of six Jayhawks’ batters swinging.

“I just really focused on attacking the strike zone and letting my defense work behind me,” Davis said. “Coach Clark did a really good job today of calling pitches and keeping them off-balance.”

Kansas didn’t have issues with sending runners to bases. Although the game ended in a shutout, Kansas finished with nine players left on base in the defeat. Davis’ pitching stepped up to an impeccable level every time Kansas placed a foot on a bag.

After beginning the season with a 2-6 conference record, Texas has now attained the .500 mark in the Big 12, sitting at 7-7. The Longhorns host North Texas on Wednesday in the final game of an eight-game home stand.

“Every game matters right now,” head coach Connie Clark said. “Today, that was what we talked pregame. It’s May and teams’ destinies are decided in May.”