Dolcini’s gutsy pitching keeps Texas softball alive against Arkansas in Super Regional

Nick Hargroue, Sports Reporter

The weary right arm of graduate transfer pitcher Hailey Dolcini continues to be the deciding factor between a Women’s College World Series berth and a trip home in defeat for Texas softball.

Dolcini threw 129 pitches and allowed only one run in another lights-out performance Friday against Arkansas, winning her fourth game this postseason in the Fayetteville Super Regional. After the game, Dolcini acknowledged that her forearm has been bothering her, but she will continue to pitch as long as the staff allows her to.

“I’m going to pitch until someone (has to) drag me off that field,” Dolcini said.

Including the Big 12 Championship, Dolcini has thrown 686 pitches this postseason in seven appearances. Dolcini has also started five consecutive games for the Longhorns, with her last game off being the 6-0 victory over Weber State in the opening game of the Seattle Regional. In order for Texas to continue its success, Dolcini will need her arm to hang on just a little longer to win one more game and make it past Arkansas to reach the Women’s College World Series.

Luckily for Dolcini, she didn’t need to be perfect Friday, as the Texas offense showed up to the plate to help out the fatigued pitcher.

Senior Janae Jefferson put on a clinic, making clutch plays at second base and hitting her sixth home run of the year to give the Longhorns a 2-1 lead in the third inning. Freshman Katie Cimusz tied the game with a solo home run to lead off the third inning, with Jefferson following Cimusz with one of her own. Senior catcher Mary Iakopo pushed the lead to two runs in the inning as well, hitting an RBI-double to score sophomore shortstop Alyssa Washington.

Arkansas appeared frustrated the entire night, consistently fouling off pitches and getting weak contact off the bat. Dolcini might not have had the most velocity on her pitches Friday, but she compensated for her lack of pitch speed by putting more spin on her pitches. Arkansas ranks fourth in the country in home runs per game, but Dolcini tamed the Razorbacks’ potent offense with her off-speed pitches and precise location.

After having some trouble with errors in the field earlier this season, the Longhorns have cleaned up their fielding. Texas has only four errors in its last eight games, with two of those occurring in Thursday’s 7-1 loss to Arkansas, an effort head coach Mike White would be proud of.

Texas will play a win-or-go-home game against Arkansas on Saturday in a bid to earn its sixth appearance in the Women’s College World Series and first since 2013.