Texas snaps losing streak, defeats Texas State 5-4

Nicholas Pannes

The No. 9-ranked Texas softball team broke out of its slump following a disappointing series against Oklahoma to defeat Texas State 5-4.

Wednesday’s game against the Bobcats marked Texas’ first game at Red and Charline McCombs Field since April 3 after a seven-game road stretch. Despite getting out hit 10 to eight on the night, the Longhorns’ stout defense propelled the team to a victory behind an unusual face on the pitcher’s mound.

In just her third pitching start of the season, freshman Courtney Day managed to hold the Bobcats to only one run through six innings. Her performance stood out to head coach Mike White, especially because she has not seen much time on the mound this year. Day will look to provide rotational depth in the latter part of the season.

“It’s obviously a really good performance by Courtney Day,” White said. “Courtney really (didn’t allow) one hard hit ball until later in the game. And so I thought that was big for us to have somebody else out in the (circle) doing a good job.”

The defense behind Day’s lights-out pitching was nearly perfect and the fielding crew’s sure hands allowed Texas to maintain a relatively comfortable lead throughout the game. Following a series against Oklahoma in which they committed eight errors, the Longhorns allowed only a single error Wednesday night.

That error proved to be costly. After going scoreless through five innings, the scrappy Bobcats scored four runs in the final two frames as they tried to engineer a late comeback. The lone Texas error facilitated a run late in the top of the sixth inning, sparking a flame in the Texas State dugout.

Nursing two outs and down by four in the top of the seventh inning, the Bobcats methodically stacked infield hits to stack the bases. The following batters pushed three runs across the board to threaten an overtime push.

The threat was ended by Texas’ most reliable pitcher, sophomore Shea O’Leary, who came on in relief for a fatigued day and closed out the game on a three-pitch ground out. White said the increased speed of O’Leary’s pitches made all the difference late in the game.

“I think it was a bit unlucky at the end there with a lot of missed hits in the infield,” White said. “But that’s what (the Bobcats) do, they create havoc. (Shea O’Leary) came in and just powered the ball. That’s what we needed. She’s quite a bit faster than Courtney, so for them to see that little bit of extra speed was great … O’Leary just did what she does.”

Texas managed only three total runs in a three-game series against Oklahoma, but they hit three home runs against Texas State on Thursday night.

Resident home run hero and junior utility player Mary Iakopo combined with freshmen teammates, catcher Jayden “JJ” Smith and designated player Jordyn Whitaker, for their team’s final three runs on the night. Coach White said he was pleased to see the freshmen finding their groove.

“JJ Smith is really catching (the ball) well behind the plate and it’s good to get her back there and give her some experience,” White said. “And then of course to get the home run, that was awesome. We know Jordyn Whitaker has power to spare so it’s good to see her coming out there to get that big run.”