Softball loses 16-game winning streak with loss against Louisiana

Emma Hutchinson, Sports Reporter

Coming off a successful weekend sweep against the Kansas Jayhawks, Texas softball had an abundance of momentum heading into its match-up against the University of Louisiana Wednesday night at McCombs Field in Austin.   

However, the Longhorns realized an unfortunate fate as the Ragin’ Cajuns threw them a curveball of a game, sending Texas home with a 6–5 loss after going 16 games unbeaten.    

Senior pitcher Hailey Dolcini took the mound, having been recently announced as the Wilson/NFCA Division 1 National Pitcher of the Week and the Big 12 Conference Co-Pitcher of the Week, giving her a staggering nine honors across her college career. Last week, Dolcini handed out 17 strikeouts in the Kansas sweep with a 0.37 ERA, while only giving up one earned run and four hits. 

“It’s definitely exciting,” Dolcini said. “It’s a special feeling, but this is a special group of girls, so we kind of feed off of each other so it’s easy to work with them.”    

Dolcini proved herself worthy of her accolades with her effortless defense on Wednesday evening. As Louisiana caught up to Texas at the top of the third inning, Dolcini was called in to help pull on the reins. The Fresno State transfer kept the Ragin’ Cajuns in check as she racked up five strikeouts and kept a stable 1.75 ERA. 

“She came in with a big reputation as a strikeout pitcher, then she got roughed up a bit at the start of the season, so I think it was a big adjustment for her but she kept fighting and working hard,” head coach Mike White said. “The last several weeks, she’s been the number one for us.”  

With Dolcini on the mound and a fighting defensive circle behind her, Texas’ offense recorded runs from various contributors. Senior Janae Jefferson recorded two hits alongside junior McKenzie Parker, freshman Katie Cimusz and sophomore Bella Dayton each recording doubles throughout the game.  

The Longhorns’ momentum dwindled heading into the fourth inning, with the game tied at four runs apiece. Many of Texas’ hits ended up in foul territory, including a potential home run from Cimusz, putting the Longhorns in a stalemate as they tried to climb into the lead. After three innings of no runs scored on either side, both teams were desperate to make the winning hit. 

Going into an eighth inning, the tension was finally broken when Louisiana brought two runners back home, putting the Ragin’ Cajuns in the lead 6–4. But Texas answered right back with a pop fly from sophomore Alyssa Washington that sent her to second base and a hit to center field from sophomore Bella Dayton. However, this wasn’t enough to keep Louisiana’s pitching at ease as Texas failed to bring Dayton home, ending the contest with a score of 6–5. 

“We just had that one inning that has been our nemesis all year where we weren’t able to stop the bleeding, and that’s the thing that worries you the most as a coach,” White said. “If you look at it, we’re hitting the ball well, we’re getting some good pitching. It’s just our defense that’s been our Achilles’ heel since I’ve been here.” 

The Longhorns will continue in their Big 12 Conference play on Friday as they play Iowa State in a three-day contest.