Texas softball's bid to return to Women’s College World Series falls short in regional final


Freshman outfielder Stephanie Wong contributed to an 11-run sixth inning Wednesday night in San Marcos, scoring the second run of the inning. Texas won the game 15-6.



Photo Credit: Helen Fernandez | Daily Texan Staff

LAFAYETTE, La. – Despite bringing in momentum from a last-inning comeback win, the Longhorns struggled both at the plate and in the field against the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Freshman pitcher Tiarra Davis was rocked right from the start giving up three runs in two-and-a-third innings pitched and the Texas offense couldn’t figure out Louisiana junior ace Christina Hamilton as the Ragin’ Cajuns won 10-1, ending the Longhorns’ 2014 season.

“It’s always bitter sweet, but I’m proud of this team from start to finish,” head coach Connie Clark said.

Things got off to a rough start for Davis right from the start, after struggling in the seventh inning against Louisiana on Saturday afternoon and giving up the win. Davis allowed a double and hit a batter with one out in the first, before getting out of the jam on a fly out double play.

She wouldn’t be so lucky in the following inning. After striking out the first batter to start the inning, Davis allowed the next three batters to reach base. Following a strikeout, Cajun pinch hitter Gabby Felps ripped a two-run single off of sophomore second baseman Stephanie Ceo’s glove to give ULL the lead.

Davis would only last two batters into the third and was replaced by junior Gabby Smith, who gave up a two-run home run on the first pitch she threw.

Clark said that they were planning on using Davis as much as possible to try to force a second game.

“She’s been our ace,” Clark said. “They were getting good looks at her and we felt like a change with Gabby was a good opportunity for us.”

The Longhorn offense, on the other hand, struggled to get any sort of rhythm going against Hamilton.

Texas had a golden opportunity in the first inning, getting runners to first and second with one out, but a deep fly out and a ground out ended the chance. Then in fourth, after Smith belted a solo home run, the Longhorns loaded the bases, but senior centerfielder Brejae Washington popped out to end the inning.

Despite the missed opportunities, Washington said it wasn’t something that got them down.

“We weren’t trying to press,” Washington said. “We did get runners on at times and couldn’t find a way to push them over.

Texas ends its season short of the Super Regional for the first time since 2011 and finished the year with a record of 35-23. The senior class leaves the Forty Acres as the winningest class in Texas history with 179 in the past four seasons.

Instead of focusing on the way it ended, Washington, who leaves Texas as the program’s single-season stolen base and all-time hits record holder, said she’s going to remember the past four years, including the comeback win Saturday night.

“All four of us seniors, we’ve struggled and fought together and we’ve won big games and lost big games,” Washington said. “I think we can look back and say ‘Hey, we had a very successful career here.’ I wish the team nothing but the best and hope we left a good mark here and created a way for them to follow.”

Even though the loss at the end was tough for the Longhorns, Clark said there are some things they can take away from this experience, especially with a team that will lose only four seniors and return its entire pitching staff.

“It was a good experience for all of them,” Clark said. “It motivates you to really understand the RPI and really understand what it’s about to work your tail off to be in the top 16.”