The No. 4 ranked Longhorns needed all seven innings and then some to defeat in-state foe North Texas in a thrilling 3-2 walk-off victory.
The Longhorns trailed 2-1 in a game that seemed all but over heading into the bottom of the seventh. Then, Texas manufactured a run when freshman infielder Camille Corona came off the bench as a pinch runner and came home on a wild pitch by North Texas pitcher Hope Trautwein. Corona’s heads-up play tied the game at 2-2 and sent the game into extra innings, where Texas won on a walk-off single to right field by senior outfielder Shannon Rhodes in the ninth inning.
This marks Texas’ second win despite trailing with just three outs left. In last weekend’s Puerto Vallarta College Challenge, the Longhorns erased Utah’s 2-1 lead after a walk-off double by sophomore first baseman Colleen Sullivan. Similar to that contest, the Longhorns were able to scratch and claw their way back into a game that was not going their way once again.
“We kind of had to pick ourselves up,” Rhodes said. “It’s hard coming from a long weekend, to a mid-week game, to another long weekend.”
Despite a quiet night offensively, Texas gave itself a chance to win in the bottom of the seventh due to gutsy pitching by sophomore pitcher Shealyn O’Leary, freshman pitcher Courtney Day and senior pitcher Miranda Elish. The trio combined to hold North Texas to just two runs off of five hits.
Elish was nearly perfect in relief of both O’Leary and Day. The Big 12 Co-Pitcher of the Week threw four frames after coming in during the top of the sixth inning, working out of a bases loaded jam in the top of the eighth to keep the Longhorns tied.
O’Leary struggled with control early, partially due to a constant drizzle and 40-degree weather during first pitch. The 2019 National Freshman Pitcher of the Year gave up two runs in the first inning before bearing down and shutting out the Mean Green in the next two innings. Entering the game with a 0.45 ERA and 2–0 record, O’Leary responded valiantly to the first taste of adversity she’s faced this season.
“She never gives in,” Texas head coach Mike White said. “She keeps working hard, she keeps trying to be a better pitcher.”
The game was not pretty by any stretch of the imagination. Texas managed only six hits the entire contest, committed two errors and left countless runners stranded in scoring position. The Longhorns, however, still found a way to win the opener of their seven-game homestand.
Now, 11–0 and two games away from tying the school record for the best start to the season, which was set in 2013, Texas will get an off day before competing in the Texas Invitational throughout the weekend. Only time will tell how far the 2020 Longhorns can go, but Texas is already showing the ability to win big and win ugly.
“We need to go out and give every team our best game,” Rhodes said. “Because they’re coming in here to give us their best game.”