Longhorns remain undefeated after wild weekend

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Senior outfielder Lindsey Stephens swings at a pitch against North Carolina. Stephens, who hit the Longhorns’ first homerun of the season against North Dakota State on Sunday, said this year’s team has an “unbelievable” amount of fight.
Photo Credit: Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff

It’s hard to question the fight in the Longhorns this year.

They opened the 2016 season with a 4-1 victory over Arkansas in game one of the Texas Classic at Red and Charline McCombs Field on Thursday, but their next three wins didn’t come so easy.

Texas erased three- and six-run deficits to notch consecutive come-from-behind victories over UNC. They went to extras again to close out their doubleheader on Saturday with a 6-5 rally win over Arkansas.

Sunday’s finale against North Dakota State University followed suit. The Bison scored in the opening frame and built a 2-0 lead before Texas scored three unanswered runs to win, 3-2. 

“The takeaway from the weekend is the confidence that you’re never out of the ballgame,” head coach Connie Clark said. “It was going to come down to the mentality. Sore bodies — you’re wiped out mentally and physically, so how tough are you to come back on day four? I thought we were really good with that.”

Junior pitcher Tiarra Davis got the start for Texas and notched her third win of the season behind a complete game effort. NDSU jumped on her early, grabbing two runs in the first inning, but she settled down and pitched five scoreless innings to help Texas improve to 5-0.

“Tiarra was tremendous mentally today,” Clark said. “She didn’t start as sharp; she got stronger as the game went on. She made a lot of adjustments and really solved [NDSU].”

Texas made good contact all game, but everything was hit right to the Bison defenders. The Longhorns stranded 10 base runners, but big hits came when it mattered to get the walk-off. 

Freshman third baseman Christina Bardwell took a pitch to the helmet to walk in Texas’ first run of the game in the third. Senior center fielder Lindsey Stephens blasted Texas’ first home run of the season over the center field wall in the seventh to tie the game. Junior designated player Celina Felix followed with a triple to center field, and freshman right fielder Reagan Hathaway drove her in with a sacrifice fly to left.

“Honestly, I didn’t care who hit it,” Stephens said. “But I was happy to do it before the weekend was over. I felt like I was seeing the ball really well all day, but that one I just got a good piece of it. It looked really big.” 

The Longhorns will travel to Houston next weekend to compete in the Hilton Houston Plaza Invitational. There’s no guarantee the games will be as dramatic, but Stephens said they can guarantee that they’ll compete to the end.

“There’s so much fight [in this team], it’s unbelievable,” Stephens said. “We’re not trying to wait for them to score and then we’ll hit; it’s just a coincidence that it happened. But we’re all on the same page and everyone’s so selfless and ready to play.”