Longhorns offense shines in opening weekend

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Photo Credit: Juan Figueroa | Daily Texan Staff

The Longhorns played five games in a three-day stretch for the second consecutive week as they hosted Indiana, South Carolina and Louisiana Tech in the Texas Invitational. 

All five of Texas’ pitchers made appearances as head coach Connie Clark’s team finished the tournament with an impressive 4-1 record. Even more striking were the 32 runs the Longhorns lured in to push their overall record on the season to 7-3. 

Senior Mickenzi Krpec led the Longhorns with a .455 batting average, recording five hits — including three doubles. Senior shortstop Devon Tunning had the highest slugging percentage at .769 with five hits, including two doubles and a homerun. 

“Sticking with our gameplan with (hitting) coach Mackay, he’s got us all working on certain things and trusting the process is the biggest thing,” Krpec said. “I think it was a confidence booster. It was like a whole new team out there today.” 

After a defensive 2-1 victory over Indiana Thursday night, Texas split games on Friday against Louisiana Tech and South Carolina. Texas used all five pitchers on Friday, with two appearances from redshirt sophomore Erica Wright. 

“You’ve just got to keep competing,” head coach Connie Clark said. “If you have a good hitting ballclub and there’s a tighter zone you’ve got to spin the ball at the plate and play some defense.”

Saturday’s game against Indiana was headed in the same direction. Junior pitcher Paige von Sprecken struggled at the circle, giving up five hits and three walks in two innings to put her team in a 6-0 hole. 

Sophomore Brooke Bolinger took over in the third inning. She sought redemption, closing the game with three hits, three strikeouts, and zero runs in four innings. 

“The young ones like that need a little result to start feeling confident,” Clark said. “ I pulled her and Taylor aside and I said, ‘listen, you guys have been on campus for four weeks, please don’t beat yourself up. You’ve got to keep learning and you’re going to get results.’”

On offense, Texas capitalized on walks and fielding errors for their first run to bring the score to 6-1. In the third inning, a key single by Krpec and a groundout to second sent runners home to bring the score to 7-5. In the fourth inning, sophomore Reagan Hathaway put herself for scoring position with an opening triple, which was brought home by a sacrifice fly. By the fifth inning, the early 6-0 deficit vanished and the Longhorns took the lead, 8-7. 

The Longhorns put up five runs in the sixth inning to rally the final score to 13-7. 

The Longhorns concluded the Texas Invitational pounding the dirt with runs to defeat Louisiana Tech 9-2. 

Senior Kelli Hanzel sent a bomber just inside the infield line and over the fence for her first homerun of the season. Freshmen Taylor Ellsworth and Tuesday DerMargosian racked up their stats with run-scoring base hits, while freshman Jade Gortarez boasted a total of five RBIs off two singles and a double. Krpec continued her time on base, walking twice and grounding a single. 

Erica Wright took over for Tiarra Davis as pitcher, closing the game with five strikeouts, four hits and one earned run. 

“I think one thing I really like over the last couple of days is this group will realize that they’ve got to come to work every day,” Clark said. “They’re really going to have to work on Tuesday and continue to work and put in the time, but I think they get that, they understand that.”