Longhorns ride Leahy's bat to run-rule victory

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Freshman third baseman Randel Leahy had a career game Wednesday against UT-Arlington. Leahy blasted a grand slam in the first inning of play and clinched the Texas victory with a walk-off, solo home run in the fifth.
Photo Credit: Graeme Hamilton | Daily Texan Staff

It didn’t take long for Texas to come out victorious over UT-Arlington on Wednesday night.

Behind freshman third baseman Randel Leahy’s two-home-run night, the Longhorns run-ruled the Mavericks, 8–0. 

Texas (28–12) pounced on UT-Arlington (26–20) from the start. 

Sophomore pitcher Tiarra Davis took the mound for the Longhorns and held the Mavericks scoreless. In the bottom of the first, the Longhorns launched an offensive strike. They started off quickly with a walk and a single from sophomore shortstop Devon Tunning and sophomore outfielder Stephanie Wong, respectively, but a setback occurred as the Mavericks retired the next two batters.

Then, with two outs and the bases loaded, junior catcher Erin Shireman sparked a rally with a single to right field, knocking in the first two runs of the game. The next two hitters connected for two more singles to load the bases as Leahy stepped up to the plate. As the ball traveled from the mound to the plate, Leahy held her stance, connected on the pitch and launched the ball over the left-field wall for her first career grand slam to extend Texas’ lead to 6–0.

“Great at-bats for Randel tonight,” Texas head coach Connie Clark said. “She’s really come along, and we’ve talked about it this season that she’s somebody we wanted to try to get in the lineup every single day.” 

After Davis retired three in the second, Tunning and Wong struck again. Tunning led off the second inning with a single but was put out on a fielder’s choice off Wong’s bat. To complete the frame, Wong stole second, advanced to third on a ground out and crossed the plate on a passed ball to make the score 7–0.

The next two innings were scoreless, thanks to Texas senior pitcher Gabby Smith’s six strikeouts.

Freshman Erica Wright came into the game in the fifth inning to pitch a perfect inning.

“Tonight was really about getting our pitchers work in a midweek, nonconference game,” Clark said. “All three of our pitchers did a great job of throwing to all zones and mixing speeds efficiently. That’s what we need is for those three to get stronger and stronger as we go on this season.”

In the bottom of the fifth, the Mavericks sent two Longhorns back to the dugout and needed just one more out for another offensive opportunity to get back in the game. But Leahy hit her second home run of the game, to the same wall as before, to clinch the victory.

“[The softball I saw] was pretty big,” Leahy said. “It was nice to come out tonight and redeem ourselves.”

Clark recognized Leahy’s success on a holistic level.

“Obviously, the grand slam was sweet, but to get the walk-off was tremendous,” Clark said.

The Mavericks were the last nonconference opponent on Texas’ schedule. Four Big 12 series are all that remain in the regular season for
the Longhorns.