Coming off of a very disappointing loss to Stephen F. Austin on Wednesday, the Longhorns came out motivated. Thanks to a one-hitter from freshman Rachel Fox and some stellar defensive plays, they were able to get rid of the bad taste quickly against North Texas.
Fox came out of the gate with her best stuff, keeping the hitters off balance all game. She allowed only one hard hit for the night, from the first batter of the game who hit a line drive into center that Brejae Washington was able to snag.
From that point on, Fox was excellent and had a perfect game bid going into the top of the fifth, when Courtney Bradshaw broke up the bid with a bloop single into left field.
“It sucks that she got a little blooper, but we got a ‘W’ and that’s all that really matters,” Fox said.
Part of what worked so well for Fox in the game was taking advantage of the North Texas hitter’s aggressiveness at the plate, throwing her off-speed pitches well and keeping the hitters out in front.
“We were getting ahead and working the pitches well, we kept them off-balance and it was just a great performance from [Amy] Hooks calling pitches behind the plate,” Fox said.
The perfect game that was so close for Fox would not have been possible without some spectacular plays from the defense behind her.
The best of these plays came in the fourth inning when junior Courtney Craig made a great diving grab down the left field line to keep the perfect game bid alive.
“I couldn’t breathe, I landed straight on my glove, it knocked the wind out of me,” Craig said. “But I was just going out there hard, being aggressive and doing what I can.”
Craig making the play says a lot about the team’s depth, as she wasn’t even starting in right field for the night, coming into the game for Tori Schmidt in the second inning.
“Tori Schmidt was feeling a bit under the weather tonight, so when we got the opportunity to make a change with Courtney Craig we didn’t miss a beat,” said Texas head coach Connie Clark. “To see depth like that is exciting for us as coaches.”
The Longhorns boast a defense ranked first in the country with a .984 fielding percentage. The defense was great again tonight allowing Fox to pitch free, because she knew if there was a sharp grounder in the hole, or a laser to the outfield, someone would be there to snag it.
“It’s so good to know that your defense is behind you, and we’re probably the best in the country statistically,” Fox said. “It’s just so relaxing as a pitcher to pitch and know you have defense behind you.”