In a season marked by inconsistency, one of the routine problems that has plagued the Longhorns has been their struggles at the plate.
The story was once again similar on Wednesday night in San Marcos, as Texas struggled to push runs across in a pitcher’s duel that resulted in a 2-1 defeat to the No. 24 Texas State Bobcats.
Texas State senior pitcher Randi Rupp dismantled the lineup throughout the night, allowing only six hits in a complete-game shutout that also featured nine strikeouts by the Texas hitters.
“We missed on a couple executions. We missed about three opportunities on that, and you just can’t against a quality pitcher like (Rupp),” Texas head coach Connie Clark said. “I think those missed opportunities are something that we have to be able to take away and be just a little better on.”
Rupper’s counterpart, senior pitcher Paige von Sprecken, performed well in the pitcher’s circle for the Longhorns, going six innings and allowing only two runs in a strong effort against the Bobcats.
The Longhorns claimed the first lead of the night when junior right fielder Bekah Alcozer blasted the first pitch she saw off Rupp for a solo home run to center field, giving Texas a 1-0 lead.
“(Rupp’s) one of the best in the nation, so I was just looking for the first pitch because I knew after that I wasn’t going to get much from her,” Alcozer said. “I was just looking for the first pitch, and it was there and I just took it.”
But Texas State responded in the bottom half of the frame. With one out, Texas State freshman second baseman Tara Oltmann and sophomore catcher Haleigh Davis knocked consecutive base hits off von Sprecken to start a rally.
Texas State loaded the bases after a bloop single deflected off the glove of freshman third baseman MK Tedder with two outs. Facing the next hitter with a 1-0 count, von Sprecken brought in the Bobcats’ first run of the game after hitting Texas State junior left fielder Mari Cranek with a pitch.
But von Sprecken promptly worked out of the frame to keep the game at a 1-1 tie.
After quiet innings from both sides at the plate, Texas State finally broke up the offensive stalemate in the bottom of the sixth inning.
With one out, three straight Texas State hitters came to the plate and delivered singles off von Sprecken to give the Bobcats another bases loaded situation with one out. Freshman pinch-hitter Brianna Sannem then delivered the all-important run for the Bobcats, connecting on a pitch for a sacrifice fly that pushed a runner across to give Texas State a 2-1 lead.
Looking to extend the game in the top of the seventh, Alcozer singled off Rupp to start the frame. Following a single by first baseman Malory Schattle and a walk by junior center fielder Ki’Audra Hayter, freshman second baseman Janae Jefferson stepped to the plate in a critical situation.
But the freshman quickly popped up to end the game.
“I thought we competed very well and did some really good things offensively as well with (Alcozer) and hitting the ball well,” Clark said. “But nine strikeouts and the lack of execution were costly.”
Texas returns to action on Friday at 7 p.m. against Texas Tech at Red & Charline McCombs Field.