Texas softball utilizes heavy hitters to close out Big 12 series against Kansas

Jaclyn Helton

The Texas softball team has catapulted to a No. 9 ranking this season behind a historically high-powered offense, and it needed every bit of that firepower to squeak by Kansas with a 10-8 win Sunday.

After a five-run outburst in the bottom of the second inning gave the Longhorns a comfortable cushion, the Jayhawks clawed their way back into the game and tied the contest at eight apiece heading into the bottom of the sixth inning. For the fourth time this season, Texas hit back-to-back home runs as junior designated player Mary Iakopo and senior left fielder Kaitlyn Washington secured the sweep of a Kansas program that is now only 2–10 in conference play on the year.

Texas has scored in double figures 13 times on the season and improved to 26–1 at the Red & Charline McCombs Field.

While Iakopo and Washington iced the game for the Longhorns, it was sophomore shortstop McKenzie Parker who got the team hot. The Texas dugout erupted as Parker blasted a home run over right field in her first at-bat of the game. Parker’s homer proved to energize the entire team, as freshman utility player Bailey Williams scored on a throwing error, freshman first baseman JJ Smith reached on a fielding error and junior infielder Janae Jefferson stole a base.

The Longhorns recorded five runs total in the second inning and generated momentum that would carry them throughout the entirety of the game. Texas finished with a whopping 13 hits on the day to the Jayhawks’ 11 and improved to 30–0 on the season when outhitting their opponent.

For all the explosive power Texas displayed at-bat on Sunday, their work on the defensive side was suspect at best.

Kansas came out with a vengeance after losing 8-1 and 10-1, respectively, to Texas in Saturday’s double header. The Longhorns were forced to use a total of four pitchers on Sunday, who combined for eight earned runs and more walks (seven) than strikeouts (six).

Freshman pitcher Courtney Day got another start on Sunday and responded adequately with 97 total pitches, six strikeouts and only three earned runs. Day picked up her fourth win as a starter and is undefeated on the year. But freshman Ryleigh White and graduate transfer Molly Jacobsen struggled mightily in relief.

White pitched only one inning and gave up two runs before Jacobsen failed to record a single out and gave up three earned runs. Sophomore pitcher Shea O’Leary was able to minimize the damage in relief of Jacobsen and allowed the Longhorns to skate by with the victory.

Sitting at 35–6 on the year and with only two more conference series before postseason play, the Longhorns continue to shake off the disappointment of the Oklahoma series and rebound for a tournament run. The good news is that the team has some of the hottest bats in the game, with Jefferson nearing Texas’ all-time hits record and junior utility player Lauren Burke coming in strong once again on Sunday with four RBIs.