Fifth-inning outburst shows offensive capabilities in blowout

Marcus Krum

With outfield walls about 15 feet high and more than 200 feet deep all around, Red & Charline McCombs Field has never been an easy place to display power.

It may have taken an hour and a half of game play to show it, but in the fifth inning of Wednesday’s matchup with Houston Baptist, the Longhorns showed off all of their strength, hitting two home runs in the frame en route to an 8-0 victory.

“I just wanted to see us be a little more aggressive with the at-bats,” Texas head coach Mike White said. “It was good to see … (catcher Mary Iakopo)’s one was well-hit and (outfielder Reagan Hathaway) has been hitting the ball hard all year.”

The two home runs, a solo shot off the bat of Hathaway and a two-run smash from Iakopo, helped spark a six-run, fifth-inning rally that ultimately sealed the win for the Longhorns. But in the first four innings, there wasn’t much going for the Texas offense.

“Sometimes, you get used to seeing a certain speed, and then when slower pitching comes in, it’s hard to adjust with your timing,” White said. “That’s what happened tonight. That’s why we were out in front of so many balls.”

It took Hathaway’s homer to finally start the rally in the fifth inning. Iakopo’s came two batters later, and then the Longhorns piled it on, finishing off the game on a run-rule after the fifth.

“We took a team deep breath and changed our approach,” Iakopo said. “That pitcher, you don’t have throw 68 (MPH) to get it by you. We just made our adjustments and passed the bat.”

While it wasn’t easy in the early going, the first two runs Texas scored were textbook ways of manufacturing runs, something White has be intent on all season. In the first inning, Hathaway doubled, got to third on a sacrifice bunt, then made it home on a sacrifice fly. In the second, Miranda Elish battled on a 10-pitch at-bat to draw a leadoff walk. She was moved to third on a double, then scored on a fielder’s choice ground ball up the middle.

“That’s kind of our M-O, and that’s what I told the team early on,” White said. “We always try to do the basics first to get one run up … Getting those runs, using the fundamentals of the game, are huge.”

In the circle, pitcher Ariana Adams is just the newest Longhorn pitcher to have an outstanding day. She threw four shutout innings in which she allowed just one hit, showing that she deserves a role in the crowded Texas rotation.

“You’ve just got to be ready for your opportunity,” White said. “(Ariana) didn’t get to pitch much in the weekend because (pitcher Shealyn O’Leary) did so well. But you’ve just got to grab your opportunities.”

The red-hot Texas team will carry a seven-game win streak into the Sun Devil Classic on Friday, where Wisconsin and No. 15 Arizona State await.