5-run rally in 6th inning leads Texas softball to win over South Dakota

Jaclyn Helton

The Texas softball team found themselves in a scare Friday afternoon, trailing by five runs to South Dakota in the waning innings of the game.

With their backs against the wall, the Longhorns reeled off five-straight runs, eventually winning the first game of this weekend’s Bevo Classic 6-5. Aside from an explosive sixth inning rally, the Longhorns struggled mightily in the field and at the plate for most of the contest.

Freshman pitcher Courtney Day had shaky command from the plate in her start, and two errors following a lead-off hit from South Dakota allowed the Coyotes to take an early 3-0 lead.

The Longhorns were discombobulated from the opening pitch, failing as a team to lift up Day, head coach Mike White said.

“I think we had a rough start,” White said. “Courtney wasn’t quite ready to go, and it showed, and they were able to play on our defense. We couldn’t help one another out.”

Texas’s only offense through the first five innings of play came on a solo home run from sophomore infielder McKenzie Parker, who lifted one over left center field in the bottom of the first inning, making the score 3-1.

Unfortunately, Texas was unable to capitalize off of Parker’s early home run and quickly found themselves trailing farther behind South Dakota. By the top of the third inning, Texas sophomore pitcher Shea O’Leary came on to relieve Day as the Coyotes progressed their lead to 4-1.

With the game getting out of hand, O’Leary provided a stabilizing force for a withering Texas squad, White said.

“We needed someone to stop the bleeding,” White said. “Shea was able to do that.”

O’Leary found control and stifled the Coyotes’ offense. In five innings of work, O’Leary gave up only two hits.

“She got stronger as the game went on, started using her off speed a little more, and I don’t know if she gave up a hit after the third or fourth inning,” White said.

Much like O’Leary, the Texas offense got stronger as the game went on. With the bases loaded and no outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, junior catcher Mary Iakopo continued her hot start to the season by singling to the left side of the field and bringing home senior outfielder Shannon Rhodes.

Redshirt junior catcher Taylor Ellsworth then doubled and brought another runner home before junior utility player Lauren Burke hit a home run to right field, allowing the Longhorns to take a 6-5 lead, which they never relinquished.

While the Longhorns will look for a faster start Saturday against UT Arlington, the five-run rally was good enough for a victory on Friday afternoon.

“We really put some hits together,” White said. “We hit the ball hard through the infield, hit some line drives and were able to come through with a win.”