Former Texas softball announcer Terry Lewis’ voice echoed in the stands Thursday night after a Longhorn victory over the Indiana Hoosiers, 2-1.
The Longhorns started their first game of the Texas Invitational on a somber note, circling the pitcher’s mound to honor “Big T” Lewis, who passed away in August at age 58. Shivers of silence wove through the blankets and hoodies of the crowd as Lewis’ wife, Missy, fired the first pitch.
Wide left. The gloved hands clapped together as Texas and Indiana took the field.
“He always just brought this great energy and liveliness to the game,” senior pitcher Tiarra Davis said. “You can still sometimes hear him. His presence is still here at this field. It’s hard not having him, but we’re glad we got to remember him today.”
The first inning showed the most action on both sides. A fielding error by senior third baseman Celina Felix got the Hoosiers on base early, but the Longhorns quickly made up for it with a double-play on second and third. Junior pitcher Kristen Clark followed up with her only walk of the game before sophomore outfielder Reagan Hathaway caught a fly ball to seal the third out.
Senior shortstop Devon Tunning ignited the bat and put the Longhorns on the scoreboard with a home run in the first inning, sending senior outfielder Stephanie Wong home from first.
“She just continues to see the ball well,” head coach Connie Clark said. “Her mechanics, she’s just so quiet up there and she knows exactly what she’s looking for.”
The Longhorns aimed to vamp up their offense, but Tunning and Hathaway tallied the only three hits for the Longhorns.
Most of the weight was carried by Clark on defense, only recording one earned run out of Indiana’s six hits.
“It wasn’t a big strikeout night, so it was a lot about pitch to contact,” Clark said. “So trusting the defense. I knew if I made my pitch, the defense was going to make their plays.”
Clark’s strikeouts came at three critical times. At the top of the fourth, Clark avoided a close call with two runners on base by striking out Indiana’s junior shortstop Aimilia McDonough to conclude the inning. Indiana’s junior third baseman Rachel O’Malley pounded a fly ball to the left center, skimming Wong’s glove for a double to bring in first baseman Taylor Uden for the Hoosiers’ score. Clark struck out two subsequent hitters to close it out for Texas.
“She only issued one free pass, one walk,” Clark said. “They’re a bit of a free-swinging team, so they were able to put the ball in play but weren’t able to square her up too much because she spotted the ball and induced that contact. I was proud of her on that; she really stayed the course and attacked strike zone all night.”
“Big T” was proud too, looking down from his seat in heaven.