Texas and Texas A&M have one of the oldest, fiercest rivalries in college sports. But after the former left the Big 12 Conference in 2012, Longhorn and Aggie matchups have become more rare than common.
In fact, before game one of the NCAA Tournament Lafayette Regional on Friday afternoon, none of the players on either roster had experienced the rivalry on the field. The Longhorns surely didn’t waste the opportunity as they shutout the Aggies, 5-0.
“It’s about being hot at the right time,” assistant coach Jennifer McFalls said on 105.3 FM. “Offensively, defensively, in the circle — everything’s coming together for us and we saw the potential of this team.”
The Aggies sent sophomore pitcher Trinity Harrington, who faced Texas as a member of the Colorado State team last season, to the circle for her seventh straight start. Although she gave up just six hits, four went for home runs to carry Texas to victory. The Longhorns hit five home runs overall.
Senior center fielder Lindsey Stephens had Harrington’s number from the start and recorded two leadoff home runs on just five pitches. She sent the fourth pitch of the game over the left field wall for her 200th career hit. She followed that up by hitting the first pitch of the third inning to dead center.
Junior Mickenzi Krpec entered in the sixth inning as a pinch hitter and delivered with a solo blast to left-center, her first of the season. Then, freshman left fielder Reagan Hathaway showed that her first NCAA Tournament game didn’t mess with her nerves by sending a bomb to center.
Texas A&M called freshman Samantha Show from the bullpen after Hathaway’s hit, but the pitching change didn’t stop Texas. Junior first baseman Kelli Hanzel notched the fifth Longhorn home run of the game with a long ball to left in the seventh.
“Lindsey has just been on fire lately, and anytime your leadoff hitter puts one over the fence, that was pretty amazing,” McFalls said. “But we knew we needed more, so thank goodness for the rest of them.”
Not to be outshone by the big hits, junior pitcher Tiarra Davis threw arguably the best game of her career to earn a five-hit, shutout win over the No. 18 batting average in the country. She recorded 11 strikeouts to bring her career total to 405 — sixth all-time in Texas softball history.
“She was absolutely unbelievable,” McFalls said. “She stepped in with so much confidence and we rode her coattail. I can’t say how proud we are of her.”
Texas will play the winner of the game between No. 14 Louisiana-Lafayette and Boston University at 11 a.m. on Saturday.
“We’ve got a lot of games ahead of us, hopefully, so we’re just going to refocus tonight and figure out how to come back with the same mentality tomorrow,” McFalls said.