Sophomore Shea O’Leary throws complete game shutout in Big 12 opener, dominates Texas Tech in 5-0 win

Jaclyn Helton

Sophomore pitcher Shea O’Leary controlled the tempo of the game and led from the circle to lead Texas to a complete game shutout and a 5-0 victory in the Longhorns’ Big 12 opener against Texas Tech. 

The Longhorns and the Raiders went head-to-head Thursday evening at Red and Charline McCombs Field in a tight ball game to open Big 12 play. O’Leary pitched the entirety of the game and kept the Raiders off the scoreboard, looking strong as she acquired the complete game shutout. 

Her outstanding performance wasn’t without a little bit of rust, though. O’Leary started the top of the first with five straight balls on the first two hitters. Maintaining a cool countenance, she bounced back and closed out the first with two strikeouts. 

“I walked the first batter, and I just had to calm my nerves, but it’s all good to be out there and throw during conference (play) again,” O’Leary said. 

The Texas offense wasted no time getting to work in the early innings of the game against the Red Raider defense, ranked number four in the nation in fielding percentage. The Longhorns recorded two walks and four singles in the second inning, giving them the early 4-0 lead and positive momentum.  

O’Leary remained a strong force to be reckoned with as she pitched two more strikeouts in the top of the third. She followed the fourth and fifth innings with the same domination, claiming a strikeout in each. 

In the bottom of the sixth, junior catcher Mary Iakopo reached a milestone with her 100th recorded RBI as a Texas Longhorn. As a robust and dependable hitter for the Longhorns, Iakopo has managed a homerun for every seven times she has stepped up to the plate this season. 

The sixth inning contained, not surprisingly, another impressive performance by O’Leary. She retired eight Raiders in a row and finished it off with a forceful changeup after getting down behind in the count. 

Overall, O’Leary allowed just three hits on twenty-eight batters, with zero errors and seven total strikeouts. After tonight’s game, she is leading the team with fifty-eight strikeouts, making herself a viable candidate to become the Longhorn’s new ace.

Texas entered into the first game of the Big 12 conference riding off of a successful preseason with a 24–3 record to show for it. However, the early success for the team did not stop the girls from being overconfident. 

“Going into it, I think we were all a little bit nervous, just had to calm the nerves, go out there, have fun and play Texas softball,” O’Leary said. 

As the Longhorns prepare to play Texas Tech once more tomorrow evening, O’Leary is assured in her team’s ability to repeat this evening’s stellar performance. 

“I think the vibe is to go out there and play Texas softball,” O’Leary said. “Go out there and play like we know how to play.”