No. 3 Texas softball triumphs over No. 1 Bruins in LA

Seth Forman

On a night when two top five teams went at it in Los Angeles, No. 3 Texas softball triumphed over No. 1 UCLA.

Texas traveled to California only one day after a doubleheader against another top 10 opponent in the No. 8 Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns, and the Horns looked nothing but ready. The team lost its first game of the season in that doubleheader and were ready to prove they could beat the best in the country.

Senior pitcher Miranda Elish and the Texas defense conceded an early run in the bottom of the first. For a team that prides themselves on defense, this was not a good sign for the Longhorns.

But the Bruins’ lead didn’t last long. Texas rattled off two runs in the top of the second as redshirt senior outfielder Reagan Hathaway hit a single into center field to bring Elish in to score. An error brought Hathaway to second, where she was replaced by junior pinch runner MK Tedder. The Longhorns would score again thanks to that gift from UCLA.

“I definitely feel really good about it,” Texas head coach Mike White said regarding the win. “Especially, you know, we had the lead twice, and we came back like good teams do.”

The top-ranked Bruins were quick to tie the game in the third with two walks and an RBI single, but Texas was just as quick to retake their lead with two more runs in the fourth as redshirt junior Taylor Ellsworth smashed a home run down the left field line to bring Elish home with her.

“That was huge for Ellsworth,” White said. “She’s been struggling a little bit. She had some injuries again, things have kind of been working against her a bit, and it’s been hard to get her in the lineup … but tonight to come up with that first big hit was huge.”

In the bottom of the fifth, UCLA redshirt junior outfielder Aaliyah Jordan hit the second two-run home run of the game to tie the game yet again. Neither team was able to hold a lead for more than an inning, and that trend continued through the scoreless sixth and seventh, which brought the game to extra innings.

At the top of the eighth, junior catcher Mary Iakopo was up to bat first. On the very first pitch of extra innings, Iakopo drove the ball left center and over the wall for the home run that gave Texas a one-run lead. The second pitch of extra innings was another home run to right center for junior utility player Lauren Burke, which increased the team’s lead. Texas held UCLA scoreless in the eighth to topple the highest-ranked softball program.

“Texas fight — that’s what we had,” White said. “We had back-to-back home runs. Mary Iakopo had half the city rooting for her, so that was great. But just to come away with a win against UCLA, who’s still the world champions, (is great).”

But Texas’ work is far from done. The Longhorns will look to keep their momentum alive as they face No. 2 Washington and No. 13 Michigan later this week.