Stepping up to the plate with the bases loaded in the fifth, pitcher Miranda Elish was gifted an opportunity. By driving in a run, Elish would have sealed her second career no-hitter on a walk-off win over Iowa State.
But Elish did more than just seal the win Friday. She blasted a line-drive over the wall in right field, adding four big exclamation points to a historic stat line as Texas opened conference play with an 11-0 home win over the Cyclones.
“I was just trying to hunt a pitch and find a pitch I could put deep into the outfield so whoever was at third could tag up,” Elish said. “I just saw a pitch, and I just turned on it and got it. It’s super exciting.”
After walking the second batter she faced, Elish was absolutely lights out from the circle. She retired the final 14 batters she saw, striking out eight on the day. She had total command of all her pitches, getting ahead in counts and consistently working with two strikes.
“Miranda set the tone (for conference play),” Texas head coach Mike White said. “It was good to see her get the reward for her hard work. She’s been busting her butt in the bullpen and really working hard.”
Elish did everything she could to help out her own cause at the plate as well. She went 2-of-4 from the third spot in the lineup, driving in five RBI on the day.
Now in her third year starting for a nationally ranked team, her special ability both at the plate and in the circle is no secret to teams around the country. But she bounced back after getting hit hard by a pair of ranked teams, nearly throwing a no-hitter in her last start against Lipscomb, and then, completing one Friday.
“It’s tough, she’s in her junior year,” White said. “A lot of people know her throughout the country and have a lot of tape on her. Right now, if you don’t execute your pitches, if you don’t throw them where you need to throw them, these good hitters are going to get you.”
But Elish executed to perfection Friday, as did the Texas offense. Iowa State made several defensive miscues early and the Longhorns made them pay, scoring three runs in the second on just one hit. The entire lineup performed well to start Big 12 play, as Texas scored four more in the fourth inning then four in the fifth on Elish’s homer.
“I feel like it really put our name out there,” second baseman Janae Jefferson said. “It told other people in our conference how we’re coming this year and how much we’ve improved this season.”
The statement win at the hands of Elish’s masterful performance is just the beginning for Texas. As the Longhorns finish out a three-game home series with the Cyclones, they will look for more of the same from whoever is on the mound. For now, however, this was a perfect start.
“There’s no better way to open up conference play than a run rule win,” Elish said.