Lafayette

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30.2138888889
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Louisiana

Freshman outfielder Stephanie Wong contributed to an 11-run sixth inning Wednesday night in San Marcos, scoring the second run of the inning. Texas won the game 15-6.

 

 

Photo Credit: Helen Fernandez | Daily Texan Staff

LAFAYETTE, La. – Despite bringing in momentum from a last-inning comeback win, the Longhorns struggled both at the plate and in the field against the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Freshman pitcher Tiarra Davis was rocked right from the start giving up three runs in two-and-a-third innings pitched and the Texas offense couldn’t figure out Louisiana junior ace Christina Hamilton as the Ragin’ Cajuns won 10-1, ending the Longhorns’ 2014 season.

“It’s always bitter sweet, but I’m proud of this team from start to finish,” head coach Connie Clark said.

Things got off to a rough start for Davis right from the start, after struggling in the seventh inning against Louisiana on Saturday afternoon and giving up the win. Davis allowed a double and hit a batter with one out in the first, before getting out of the jam on a fly out double play.

She wouldn’t be so lucky in the following inning. After striking out the first batter to start the inning, Davis allowed the next three batters to reach base. Following a strikeout, Cajun pinch hitter Gabby Felps ripped a two-run single off of sophomore second baseman Stephanie Ceo’s glove to give ULL the lead.

Davis would only last two batters into the third and was replaced by junior Gabby Smith, who gave up a two-run home run on the first pitch she threw.

Clark said that they were planning on using Davis as much as possible to try to force a second game.

“She’s been our ace,” Clark said. “They were getting good looks at her and we felt like a change with Gabby was a good opportunity for us.”

The Longhorn offense, on the other hand, struggled to get any sort of rhythm going against Hamilton.

Texas had a golden opportunity in the first inning, getting runners to first and second with one out, but a deep fly out and a ground out ended the chance. Then in fourth, after Smith belted a solo home run, the Longhorns loaded the bases, but senior centerfielder Brejae Washington popped out to end the inning.

Despite the missed opportunities, Washington said it wasn’t something that got them down.

“We weren’t trying to press,” Washington said. “We did get runners on at times and couldn’t find a way to push them over.

Texas ends its season short of the Super Regional for the first time since 2011 and finished the year with a record of 35-23. The senior class leaves the Forty Acres as the winningest class in Texas history with 179 in the past four seasons.

Instead of focusing on the way it ended, Washington, who leaves Texas as the program’s single-season stolen base and all-time hits record holder, said she’s going to remember the past four years, including the comeback win Saturday night.

“All four of us seniors, we’ve struggled and fought together and we’ve won big games and lost big games,” Washington said. “I think we can look back and say ‘Hey, we had a very successful career here.’ I wish the team nothing but the best and hope we left a good mark here and created a way for them to follow.”

Even though the loss at the end was tough for the Longhorns, Clark said there are some things they can take away from this experience, especially with a team that will lose only four seniors and return its entire pitching staff.

“It was a good experience for all of them,” Clark said. “It motivates you to really understand the RPI and really understand what it’s about to work your tail off to be in the top 16.”

LAFAYETTE, Louisiana – Down 3-1 to Mississippi State with two outs in the top of the seventh in an elimination game, the Longhorns weren’t quite ready to go home.

“We weren’t ready for this to end yet,” senior shortstop Taylor Thom said.

Sophomore second baseman Stephanie Ceo blooped in a single, followed by a single by senior Brejae Washington, bringing sophomore right fielder Lindsey Stephens to the plate. Up 3-1 in the count, Stephens, who entered the tournament in an 0-for-15 slump, blasted a home run to give Texas a lead they would hold on to in a 4-3 win.

“I wasn’t ready for the 2014 season to end,” Stephens said. “I wasn’t ready for anything to stop yet.”

Through the first six innings of the game, Mississippi State’s senior pitcher Alison Owens kept the Longhorn offense at bay, allowing three hits and only one run. The Bulldogs offense, meanwhile, took advantage of a Texas error in the first, a home run in the fourth and a double in the sixth to build the 3-1 lead going into the final inning.

Mississippi State appeared to be on its way to a showdown with UL-Lafayette on Sunday after the first two Texas hitters were sent down to start the seventh. But after Ceo’s bloop single fell in-between the second baseman and right fielder, an emotional exchange between Washington and Thom and Washington’s single up the middle, things were looking much better for the Longhorns.

That’s when Stephens stepped in, knowing the entire inning that she would get the chance to bat. Stephens turned on the fifth pitch of the at bat and hit a three-run shot that turned around the game and the season for Texas.

“We’re very capable and we can all hit,” Stephens said. “The game’s not over until the umpire says, ‘Ballgame,’ when that third out is made.”

Texas was put in the position to have to win the game against Mississippi State after a tough 2-1 loss to ULL earlier in the day.

The Longhorns entered the bottom of the seventh up 2-1 on the Ragin’ Cajuns thanks in part to a solo home run by Thom in the fourth inning. But freshman pitcher Tiarra Davis allowed the first four batters to reach base, allowing Louisiana to tie the game and two batters later walked in the winning run with the bases loaded.

Despite the tough loss, Stephens said they regrouped after the game, put on new jerseys and went out to keep playing in the postseason.

“It was like a new day and a new game and we just went after it,” Stephens said.

With the win, the Longhorns advanced to play the Ragin’ Cajuns again on Sunday at noon. Texas will have to win two games to advance to the Super Regionals for the third-straight season, while Louisiana would only need to win one of a possible two games Sunday to advance.

Even though the loss Saturday afternoon was difficult, Thom said they can take some momentum from that game and a lot of momentum from the seventh inning comeback to their advantage.

“We’ve already beat [Louisiana] twice this season,” Thom said. “We have all the confidence in the world that we can beat them.”

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

LAFAYETTE, La. – In the week leading up to the Lafayette Regional, freshman pitcher Tiarra Davis tried to keep her nerves down knowing that she would be making her first career postseason start on Friday.

But as she warmed up before the game, the nerves started to creep back.

“The more I warmed up, the more nervous I got,” Davis said.

Once the game started, though, Davis was able to conquer her nerves and settle down. She ended up striking out seven batters and kept Mississippi State off the board in a 1-0 win for Texas in the opening game of the regional tournament.

“She was really able to keep them off balance,” head coach Connie Clark said.

Davis' nerves showed early in the game as she allowed a leadoff double to right-center field. But she came back to get the next two batters to pop out and she got a strikeout to get through the first inning.

Through the next six innings, Davis would send the Bulldogs down in order only one time, but as she’s done all season, she worked out of big jams. In the fourth inning, senior first baseman Logan Foulks hit a one-out double for Mississippi State. Davis struck out the next batter and got the third out on a fly out to right.

In the top of the seventh, Davis allowed a leadoff single to put the tying run on base. But after a sacrifice bunt to move the runner to second, Davis struck out the last two batters to end the game.

Davis credited senior catcher Mandy Ogle for helping her get through the tough innings.

“She just reminds me to take a deep breath and relax and to put my trust in my defense,” Davis said.

Davis' strong control of her off-speed pitch helped her. The Bulldogs were able to only get one hit off of the changeup — the double in the fourth — and a majority of their strikeouts came on that pitch.

Clark said that the pitch has been something Davis has worked hard on the past couple of weeks.

“Obviously to be able to throw that in any count was significant for us,” Clark said.

At the plate, the Longhorns had a hard time figuring out Bulldogs senior ace Alison Owen. Through two-and-two-thirds innings, Texas only managed two hits, one of which was a bunt by senior centerfielder Brejae Washington to start the game.

But with two outs in the third inning and down 0-2 in the count, Washington surprised everyone in the stadium, blasting a solo home run to deepest part of the ballpark in centerfield to put the Longhorns ahead 1-0.

Washington said she knew it was a solid hit when she made contact, but didn’t quite know if it had the distance.

“It’s one of those things were you look up and you’re like 'get out, get out,'” Washington said.

With the win, the Longhorns move into the winner’s bracket in the double elimination tournament. Texas will face Louisianna at Lafayette Saturday at noon. The winner of that game will advance to the regional final on Sunday, while the loser will have to play Saturday evening.

The Longhorns beat the Ragin' Cajuns twice in Lafayette earlier this season by scores of 10-7 and 7-3.

LAFAYETTE, La. - The first round of the NCAA tournament will be a case of déjà vu for the Longhorns this weekend.

In the Lafayette Regional, Texas could square off against Louisiana-Lafayette and Texas Southern, two teams that the Longhorns faced and beat twice earlier this season.

But first things first, Texas will have to get by a Mississippi State team on Friday that went 38-19 in the regular season.

The Bulldogs come into the tournament having won three of their past four series in the SEC, including a 2-1 series win over Alabama; however, they fell to Kentucky in the opening round of the SEC tournament a week ago.

Freshman infielder Caroline Seitz led Mississippi State at the plate with a .350 batting average, 63 hits, 19 doubles and 36 RBIs. Senior catcher Sam Lenahan added 10 home runs and 42 RBIs for the Bulldogs, who are in the NCAA tournament for the third straight season.

Senior Alison Owen and freshman Alex Silkwood split time in the circle for Mississippi State. In 144 innings pitches, Owen allowed 111 hits, struck out 152 batters and compiled an ERA of 2.28, while Silkwood pitched 165.2 innings, giving up 130 hits, striking out 214 batters and ended the season with an ERA 3.00.

After the opening game against the Bulldogs Friday, Texas will either face ULL or Texas Southern.

The Longhorns opened up the season with a tournament in Lafayette, facing the Ragin’ Cajuns twice in two days. In the first game, ULL opened up with five runs in the first inning, but Texas came back with three runs in each of the last three innings, including two home runs, to take a 10-7 win.

The next day, the Ragin’ Cajuns again took an early 2-0 lead in the first, but a five-run fifth inning, capped off by a three-run home run from sophomore right fielder Lindsey Stephens, helped the Longhorns to a 7-3 win.

Texas had its way with Texas Southern in the Texas Invitational back on March 1 and 2. The Longhorns run-ruled the Lady Tigers in both games and combined for 23 hits in both games and outscored them 17-1.

But a lot has changed in the couple of months since the teams have played, especially for ULL and Texas. The Ragin’ Cajuns have won 35 of their last 38 games, including two wins each against Oklahoma and Baylor. They have three hitters with 30 or more RBIs this season and junior ace Christina Hamilton has allowed only 131 hits and struck out 166 batters, ending the year with an ERA of 1.55.

Texas, on the other hand, has found its ace in freshman Tiarra Davis, who has struck out 162 batters and has an ERA of 2.35. Despite a recent slump, Stephens still leads the team with 15 home runs and 62 RBIs.

With all of the challenges the Longhorns have faced this season, head coach Connie Clark said that their best is still ahead of them in the Lafayette Regional.

“We’ve grown a lot as a team this year,” Clark said. “The young ones have really learned a lot. This group has learned how to play mentally tough and play for each other. I think everything is hitting at the right time.”

Junior Gabby Smith starred for Texas against LSU on Thursday, pitching seven strong innings.

Photo Credit: Shweta Gulati | Daily Texan Staff

After a long offseason of facing the same batters and the same pitchers, the first tournament of the season is an exciting moment for teams.

Playing five games over the course of three or four days allows coaches to see who their starters will be conference play starts, and young players are able to get used to the college game.

“Going into the first tournament is always exciting,” junior pitcher Gabby Smith said. “It’s preseason and it’s just so much fun.”

The Longhorns will play their first tournament of the year away from home for the first time since 2007, electing to compete in the Louisiana Classic in Lafayette, La. Texas will face North Carolina, Louisiana-Lafayette, Purdue and Northern Iowa in the three-day tournament.

While Texas comes in as the highest-ranked team in the tournament — ranked No. 10 by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association — they’ll face stiff competition, particularly from Louisiana-Lafayette.

The Ragin’ Cajuns are coming off of a run to the Super Regional where they fell to Michigan. This season, they are ranked No. 13 in the preseason ranking and pitcher Jordan Wallace is looking to continue her success from a year ago when she was 32-9 with 382 strikeouts.

The Longhorns swept all three games the two teams played last year, but head coach Connie Clark knows it will be different this time around playing in Lafayette.

“They usually draw pretty well and they really enjoy their softball down there,” Clark said.

Texas will face North Carolina in its first game of the tournament. The Tar Heels finished last season 40-21 and made it into the NCAA tournament. They return 10 of their key players, including pitcher Lori Spingola, who went 30-15 last year with a 2.50 ERA and 304 strikeouts.

Clark said starting the season with both of those teams will be a needed challenge for the Longhorns.

“I think that’s exactly what we need to get these young players into the fire as quickly as we can,” Clark said.

The Longhorns are coming off of a 6-1 win over LSU in their opening game of the season. Senior shortstop Taylor Thom boosted the Texas offense with a three-run home run in the fifth to put the game out of hand. Junior pitcher Gabby Smith allowed only one unearned run and struck out two in the complete game.

The Louisiana Classic is part of a tough non-conference schedule for Texas, who will also play Arizona State, Michigan and Washington — all of which are ranked in the top 10 going into the season. With seven freshmen joining the Longhorns for 2014, senior shortstop Taylor Thom said the team’s focus for the tournament and the rest of the non-conference schedule will be consistency.

“There are a lot of new faces out there and not a lot of experience, so we’re just going to have to continue to work through the ups and downs,” Thom said.

But now that the Longhorns are playing someone other than themselves, Smith said they’re ready to go out and have fun.

“I know we’re all really anxious to have a different opponent,” Smith said. “It’s going to be good to see different batters.”