Just days after All-American candidate Miranda Elish’s heroic performance lifted the Longhorns to their first super regional since 2013, the ace suffered her worst performance of the postseason in a 3-0 loss Thursday night.
Alabama proved to be too much for head coach Mike White’s star right-hander. Elish, who allowed just two earned runs over 30 innings in the regional, was shredded for two runs in the first three innings of a devastating game one defeat in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
After a suspenseful and scoreless first two innings, Alabama broke through in the third behind a two-run blast from Merris Schroder — the hitter in the nine hole — to take a 2-0 lead.
“She capitalized on one of my mistakes,” Elish said. “I threw a pitch right down the middle and she drove it. I could have done better and should have done better.”
One inning later, the deficit grew when catcher Mary Iakopo made her second errant throw on a pickoff attempt of the night, costing Texas a run to stretch the Alabama’s lead to 3-0.
“We just have to minimize our mistakes and play our best softball,” Elish said. “Alabama is a really good team, and you can’t afford mistakes against them.”
Things were not much better for the Longhorns at the plate. Texas’ pitching and defensive struggles were met with a frustrating lack of offense.
The same offense that sparked late-inning explosions in the Austin Regional, which provided much-needed insurance runs, was limited by SEC Freshman of the Year Montana Fouts to just two hits.
“I feel like (Fouts) was bringing it a little bit,” second baseman Janae Jefferson said. “But it wasn’t too overpowering for us. We just have to attack the ball early in the counts and be more of an aggressive hitting team.”
Mike White was all too aware of his team’s offensive struggles.
“You can’t win a game if you don’t score a run,” White said postgame.
So what exactly does this game one loss mean for Texas? Teams that take game one go on to win the best-of-three series a whopping 79% of the time. If that isn’t enough, in game two Alabama will likely throw Sarah Cornell, who only lost one regular-season game.
Texas will have the opportunity to avenge its loss in game two Friday at 8 p.m.