No. 7 Texas softball advances to Big 12 Softball Championship finals

Tori Garcia, General Sports Reporter

No. 7 Texas snatched a 9-1 five-inning game win over Kansas to advance to the Big 12 Softball Championship finals in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Longhorns displayed a team-effort win with every player in the batting lineup contributing a hit, run or RBI.

The Longhorns advanced to the semifinals following Thursday’s ball game against Texas Tech after rallying back from a 4-point deficit in extra innings.

“Well, our backs were against the wall — a little bit like they were last year — and the team just showed a lot of resilience in fighting back,” Texas head coach Mike White said. “We were just getting a bit unlucky there in the first few innings. We were hitting (pitches) right at people and (Texas Tech) was finding holes. But we stuck in there and held them there late and found (our way) back.”

On Friday, Texas faced Kansas in the semifinals of the Big 12 Softball Championship. Earlier in the regular season, the Longhorns battled the Jayhawks in a three-game series, defeating Kansas in two out of the three matchups.

After playing from behind almost all game against the Red Raiders on Thursday, the Longhorns took charge against the Jayhawks, shifting their momentum to take control of the game from the get-go.

“We’re all searching for (momentum) and we want to stop it and we want to create it,” White said. “That’s what our mission was today, just keep it rolling.”

Junior first baseman and designated player Courtney Day made an early dent on the scoreboard with two RBIs in the first inning following an on-time swing from a drop ball outside the plate.

On Wednesday, five Longhorn student-athletes were selected to the league’s ten-member All-Big 12 freshman team: freshman catcher and first baseman Reese Atwood, shortstop and second baseman Leighann Goode, right-handed pitcher Citlaly Gutierrez, outfielder Ashton Maloney and shortstop and second baseman Viviana Martinez.

Freshman honoree Goode made a significant impact on the game in the second inning. After Popelka reached the bases with a single, Goode was able to capitalize off of a baserunner and hit her eighth home run of the season.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, with the Longhorns leading 7-1, sophomore utility player Baylea Brandon stepped up to the plate. Brandon crushed the pitch with a solo home run, extending the lead and giving the Longhorns confidence to finish out the victory.

Following a Kansas pitching change and their first error of the night, Texas loaded the bases. An RBI walk-off single by Maloney ended the game thanks to the eight-run lead mercy rule as the Longhorns crowded home plate in celebration of moving on to the finals.

No. 7 Texas will face No. 1 Oklahoma in the finals of the Big 12 Softball Championship in hopes to redeem themselves from the devastating NCAA Tournament finale loss against the Sooners that ended the 2022 season.