Down go the champs: Texas softball stuns No. 1 Oklahoma in emotional win

Nick Hargroue, Sports Reporter

On Saturday, No. 1 Oklahoma entered the final game of its series against No. 13 Texas on a 40-game win streak. The Sooner’s ERA sits at an almost unhittable 0.62, and five starters have double-digit home runs on the season. 

However, Texas managed to do the improbable and beat one of the most dominant collegiate softball teams of all time for the first time this season, by a score of 4-2.

The crowd was rocking Saturday at Red & Charline McCombs Field, as the excitement of Longhorn great Cat Osterman’s jersey retirement ceremony and the dazzling play of Texas inspired a raucous crowd. Despite the energy, graduate transfer pitcher Hailey Dolcini kept laser focus on earning today’s victory for Texas.

“I try to stay in the moment as much as possible and not get rattled too much,” Dolcini said. “But, a huge crowd like this, a huge showing, is just great for our sport in general and especially for our program.”

Dolcini emulated Osterman in an impressive two-run performance against the Sooners on Saturday, giving up only two hits. Dolcini idolized Osterman growing up, citing her as a key influence. On Saturday, the stars aligned: Dolcini got the chance to upset one of the greatest softball teams of all time on the day of Osterman’s birthday and jersey retirement ceremony.

“(I was) definitely a little emotional watching the ceremony, being that’s someone I’ve idolized. … The impact (she’s) had on the game and the impact she’s had on me personally is second to none,” Dolcini said. “I think we were really just trying to give her the best birthday present we could, and I think we delivered.” 

Texas head coach Mike White praised his team after the game for cleaning up the errors and mistakes that have plagued the team lately, as they melted away Saturday in a dominant defensive performance. 

“The difference in the three games has been the errors; we had zero and they had two, their first two errors of the series,” White said. “That’s the difference maker in a lot of these games.”

Texas took the lead in the bottom of the fifth inning for the first time in the series off the bat of super senior catcher Mary Iakopo, singling into left field to bring home junior outfielder Lou Gilbert. The Longhorns would add to the lead in the bottom of the sixth as well, with freshman third baseman Mia Scott smashing a base-clearing double off the wall in left center. This made the score 4-0 Texas, giving the Longhorns some much needed breathing room.

However, things got hairy late as Dolcini hit sophomore center fielder Jayda Coleman with one out in the seventh inning. Junior catcher Kinzie Hansen then blasted a home run to the parking lot behind the left-field wall, bringing the score to 4-2. Chants of “Boomer! Sooner!” echoed throughout the stadium, but Dolcini stayed cool, calm and collected to put Oklahoma away and secure a meaningful win.

“Sometimes you can go out there after throwing a great game and think, ‘Oh, they’ve got my number. They know what I’m throwing,’” White said. “That didn’t faze her; she came back, stuck to the game plan, attacked them and really showed me some grit.”

Texas’ win against Oklahoma breaks a 40-game win streak for the Sooners and puts the team just a game back of Oklahoma in the conference standings. The game was a massive victory for the Longhorns, giving them momentum and confidence for the upcoming postseason tournaments.

“All we’re looking forward to is the postseason,” Iakopo said. “This team is ready after getting punched in the mouth again and again and again.”

Texas will face Houston next Wednesday at home before going on a seven-game road trip with games against Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Baylor. The next couple of series are important for the Longhorns to dominate in order to have a chance at the Big 12 regular season title.