Tiarra Davis

After scoring four runs in the first game, the Longhorns only managed to score three over the next two games against Texas Tech.
Photo Credit: Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff

After edging the Red Raiders in a close game Friday, Texas dropped the next two to conclude the three-game conference series this past weekend.

With sophomore first baseman Kelli Hanzel’s go-ahead blast in the sixth and freshman pitcher Erica Wright’s 10 strikeouts Friday night, Texas grabbed a 4–3 win over Texas Tech for its ninth-consecutive road win.

Texas (32–14, 7–5 Big 12) jump-started the game with a crucial three-run second inning, but Texas Tech (23–25, 7–8 Big 12) fought back. In the fourth inning, Devon Thomey, Texas Tech sophomore designated hitter, sent one into the stands to pull within two. The next inning, the Red Raiders rallied with two outs with an RBI triple and a windy tag-up on a dropped foul ball that rolled fair.

In the top of the sixth, Hanzel put Texas back in the lead with a home run, and in the bottom of the seventh, sophomore Tiarra Davis clinched the victory with a game-ending strikeout.

“Significant win for us,” head coach Connie Clark said. “I’m just pleased overall with our fight and our grit, especially when they tied it up. To answer right back, that was huge.”

Clark said she was especially glad to see Texas’ success at the plate.

“We’ve had a few of our hitters working really hard this week on some things — [Hanzel] specifically and Stephanie Ceo,” Clark said.

The next day, the Longhorns struggled to find home plate. With an 8-to-3 hit advantage over the home team, the Longhorns stranded seven over the course of the game.

In the first inning, the Red Raiders pulled a role reversal over the Longhorns, and while Texas stayed scoreless, Texas Tech took off.

Senior Gabby Smith struggled from the mound, pitching just two-thirds of an inning. In that time, the Red Raiders scored three of their four runs. Wright relieved for 5.1 frames, allowing just one run while striking out six, but the Longhorns couldn’t manage to put a run on the board.

In the top of the final frame, Texas junior designated hitter Holly Kern led off with a pop out, followed by singles from senior right fielder Marlee Gabaldon and junior catcher Erin Shireman. Still, a strikeout and a fielder’s choice concluded the game with the Red Raiders on top, 4–0.

In the third and final game of the series, Texas started out with a glimmer of hope. Sophomore shortstop Devon Tunning led off and reached first on a walk, her 30th time this season reaching base to begin the game. But she never made it around the bases, and with both teams scoreless in the first, the Red Raiders cracked the scoreboard after Davis walked a batter with the bases loaded in the bottom of the second.

Finally, in the fifth, the Longhorns reached home plate for the first time in 12 innings. With Tunning and sophomore left fielder Stephanie Wong on base, junior center fielder Lindsey Stephens hit a three-run home run — her 14th home run of the season — to her respective area of the field to pull the Longhorns within two. But the Longhorns’ success didn’t last long, and after another run in the fifth and one in the sixth for the Red Raiders, Texas fell, 7–3.

Texas continues conference play against Oklahoma State at 7 p.m. Friday in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Senior pitcher Gabby Smith pitched a complete game Saturday. Smith racked up 10 strikeouts while allowing five hits.
Photo Credit: Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff

In its third conference series of the season, Texas took all three games against Iowa State, largely on the strength of its pitchers.

The Longhorns (31–12, 6–3 Big 12) entered the matchup coming off a UT-Arlington victory Wednesday and carried the momentum for the team’s second Big 12 sweep of the season. 

In the first game, which was played Saturday afternoon because of weather-related delays, freshman Erica Wright (12–6) stepped up to the mound, shutting out Iowa State (21–20, 3–6 Big 12), 8–0. She walked just one batter, allowed just one hit and struck out eight.

Texas jumped to a 1–0 lead in the first, but extended it to 5—0 by the end of the second. In the fifth inning, junior catcher Erin Shireman connected on a two-RBI double to end the game early on a run-rule with Texas up by eight — its sixth run-rule win at home this season.

“This is two weekends in a row where we’ve had to push to get in doubleheaders because of weather,” head coach Connie Clark said. “I’m happy that we have a pitching staff that can handle that.”

Senior Gabby Smith took the mound in the second game and displayed her skill in a pitching duel with Iowa State senior Stacy Roggentien. In the bottom of the first, junior center fielder Lindsey Stephens reached on a triple, scoring shortly after on a wild pitch. Once Texas scored two more, Iowa State countered in the fourth when junior center fielder Brittany Gomez scored on a sacrifice fly for the Cyclones’ first run of the game.

The Cyclones brought the game within one when junior infielder Aly Cappaert launched a long ball to right-center to bridge the gap to 3–2.

“With a close game, I thought to just attack the hitters, get ground balls, no walks,” Smith said. “I think that was the key.” 

Despite a Cyclones lead-off single to start the seventh, Smith recorded a putout and her 10th strikeout of the night to clinch the win for Texas.

“We were not able to have Tiarra [Davis] get up and go, which bodes well for [Sunday],” Clark said. “But I thought both Gabby and Erica attacked the strike zone really well.”

In the final game of the series, sophomore Tiarra Davis posted the start for the Longhorns. While Davis started out slow, she was able to quickly recover. Walking Gomez at the lead-off position, Davis suffered an earned run in the first. But that would be the last Cyclones run of the game.

In the second inning, Davis recorded a pair of strikeouts in a one-two-three inning, sparking the beginning of a Longhorns offensive stint.

After a strong holdup in the first few frames, the Longhorns cracked the Cyclones defense in the bottom of the fourth when junior second basemen Stephanie Ceo scored on a dropped ball at the plate to put the Longhorns ahead, 2–1. After two more insurance runs from the Longhorns and seven strikeouts from Wright in the relief spot, the Longhorns picked up the 4–1 win.

On the weekend, Texas pitchers stuck out 30 and held Gomez, who entered the series with a team-best batting average of .448, to just three hits and two runs.

With these three wins, Texas has beat Iowa State in 45 of the 46 contests and moves into a second-place tie in the Big 12. Texas takes on Texas Tech beginning Friday in Lubbock in its fourth conference series.​​

Freshman third baseman Randel Leahy had a career game Wednesday against UT-Arlington. Leahy blasted a grand slam in the first inning of play and clinched the Texas victory with a walk-off, solo home run in the fifth.
Photo Credit: Graeme Hamilton | Daily Texan Staff

It didn’t take long for Texas to come out victorious over UT-Arlington on Wednesday night.

Behind freshman third baseman Randel Leahy’s two-home-run night, the Longhorns run-ruled the Mavericks, 8–0. 

Texas (28–12) pounced on UT-Arlington (26–20) from the start. 

Sophomore pitcher Tiarra Davis took the mound for the Longhorns and held the Mavericks scoreless. In the bottom of the first, the Longhorns launched an offensive strike. They started off quickly with a walk and a single from sophomore shortstop Devon Tunning and sophomore outfielder Stephanie Wong, respectively, but a setback occurred as the Mavericks retired the next two batters.

Then, with two outs and the bases loaded, junior catcher Erin Shireman sparked a rally with a single to right field, knocking in the first two runs of the game. The next two hitters connected for two more singles to load the bases as Leahy stepped up to the plate. As the ball traveled from the mound to the plate, Leahy held her stance, connected on the pitch and launched the ball over the left-field wall for her first career grand slam to extend Texas’ lead to 6–0.

“Great at-bats for Randel tonight,” Texas head coach Connie Clark said. “She’s really come along, and we’ve talked about it this season that she’s somebody we wanted to try to get in the lineup every single day.” 

After Davis retired three in the second, Tunning and Wong struck again. Tunning led off the second inning with a single but was put out on a fielder’s choice off Wong’s bat. To complete the frame, Wong stole second, advanced to third on a ground out and crossed the plate on a passed ball to make the score 7–0.

The next two innings were scoreless, thanks to Texas senior pitcher Gabby Smith’s six strikeouts.

Freshman Erica Wright came into the game in the fifth inning to pitch a perfect inning.

“Tonight was really about getting our pitchers work in a midweek, nonconference game,” Clark said. “All three of our pitchers did a great job of throwing to all zones and mixing speeds efficiently. That’s what we need is for those three to get stronger and stronger as we go on this season.”

In the bottom of the fifth, the Mavericks sent two Longhorns back to the dugout and needed just one more out for another offensive opportunity to get back in the game. But Leahy hit her second home run of the game, to the same wall as before, to clinch the victory.

“[The softball I saw] was pretty big,” Leahy said. “It was nice to come out tonight and redeem ourselves.”

Clark recognized Leahy’s success on a holistic level.

“Obviously, the grand slam was sweet, but to get the walk-off was tremendous,” Clark said.

The Mavericks were the last nonconference opponent on Texas’ schedule. Four Big 12 series are all that remain in the regular season for
the Longhorns. 

Sophomore shortstop Devon Tunning went 2-for-4 with a three-run home run in Texas’ blowout victory over Ohio University on Friday.
Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

The first day of play in North Carolina was cancelled because of weather, but storm clouds couldn’t stop the big bats in Texas’ lineup.

The Longhorns (15–8) collected 30 hits and scored 19 runs through three games at the Carolina Classic, and overall went 2–1 on the weekend.

Texas used 12 hits and three three-run home runs to defeat Ohio University early Friday, 11–0. Sophomore shortstop Devon Tunning notched one of the long balls — her first of the season — and went 2-for-4 with three RBIs. Junior catcher Erin Shireman also hit a home run and went 3-for-3 with a career-high five RBIs. Sophomore pitcher Tiarra Davis hit the other
home run.

On Friday afternoon, the Longhorns dropped a late game to North Carolina, 8–3, despite outhitting the Tarheels.

Texas had eight hits in the game, led by sophomore left fielder Stephanie Wong, who went 2-for-3, and sophomore first baseman Kelli Hanzel, who also went 2-for-3 with two runs scored.

But the Longhorns pitchers walked three batters and hit two, allowing North Carolina to come out victorious. Freshman pitcher Erica Wright took the loss, giving up three earned runs on four hits over two innings of work.

Five runs on 10 hits powered the Longhorns to a 5–0 victory over Charlotte on Saturday morning. The Texas offense was led by Davis, who had two RBIs, and juniors Lindsey Stephens and Stephanie Ceo, who both went 2-for-3 with a combined three runs.

Wright was the highlight of Saturday’s win, tallying a career-high 11 strikeouts with just two hits allowed over six innings of work. Wright gave up four walks in the game, but she was able to adjust and keep baserunners from crossing the plate.

The small downside to Wright’s strong line exemplifies the inconsistency the Texas pitching staff has struggled with throughout the five tournaments to open its season. The staff has a collective 2.82 earned run average and has granted 83 runs in 23 games.

The Longhorns will travel to Fayetteville, Arkansas, this weekend for a three-game set with the Razorbacks. Only five games separate Texas from its first Big 12 series against Kansas at the end of the month.

The No. 25 Longhorns started strong during its trip to California this weekend but struggled in their final games to end the weekend with a 2–3 record and a season mark of 9–6.  

On Thursday, Texas compiled upsets against No. 8 Georgia and No. 12 UCLA. The Longhorns handed the Bulldogs its first loss of the season behind a three-hit, complete-game shutout from freshman pitcher Erica Wright.

The game was scoreless until senior right fielder Marlee Gabaldon knocked a double into the right-center field gap to clear the loaded bases in the top of the seventh. Junior third baseman Stephanie Ceo then hit an inside-the-park home run that dropped between Georgia’s right and center fielders to add two more runs.

Two huge defensive plays from junior center fielder Lindsey Stephens kept the Bulldogs off the board late in the game. She fired a bullet in the bottom of the fifth to throw out Georgia senior pinch runner Adele Harrison at home and then made a tough catch in the sixth to strand two Georgia runners.

Against UCLA, sophomore pitcher Tiarra Davis threw four innings and gave up just one earned run on three hits while striking out two. Senior pitcher Gabby Smith earned her first save of the season, allowing two earned runs on five hits and striking out two in the final three frames of Texas’ 5–3 win.

Junior catcher Erin Shireman, who went 2-for-3 with a home run and two RBIs, led the Longhorns while Stephens went 1-for-2 and scored a pair of runs.

Defensively, Shireman and sophomore left fielder Stephanie Wong made big plays to help preserve the Texas victory. In the bottom of the fifth, Wong made a difficult, back-handed running catch, and Shireman fired a shot from behind the plate to throw out a UCLA runner, keeping the game in Texas’ hands.

However, Friday didn’t go as well for Texas, as a seventh-inning Longhorn rally came up short in an 8–7 loss to Fresno State. Sophomore pitcher Lauren Slatten threw the first four frames, giving up three earned runs on seven hits with five strikeouts. Freshman pitcher Kristen Clark came on in relief and took the loss, giving up the first of four runs in a big fifth inning for the Bulldogs.

Junior first baseman Holly Kern led the Longhorn on offense, going 2-for-3 with a home run and three RBIs. Stephens knocked a home run as well and Smith, in the game as a designated player, went 2-for-4 with two RBIs.

On Friday night, Texas lost to No. 18 Missouri, 4–3. Wright pitched the entire game, allowing all four unearned runs and notching just one strikeout. Wong, Stephens and sophomore second baseman Kelli Hanzel each had an RBI. The Longhorns stranded the tying run on third in both games.

Texas closed out its weekend by losing to No. 24 Notre Dame, 5–1, on Saturday. Davis gave up four earned runs on four hits in 3.2 innings and took the loss before handing the game over to Slatten.

Smith accounted for the lone Texas score with an RBI single that scored Hanzel in the bottom of the sixth.

The Longhorns return to action this weekend at McCombs Field for the Texas Invitational.

Junior outfielder Lindsey Stephens eyes a pitch headed her way. Stephens hit a grand slam in win over UC-Santa Barbara.
Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

Texas started off its season strong with three wins in five games at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Arizona, this weekend, including a final win against No. 16 Arizona State.

In the season opener, Texas kick-started the year with a 15–0 win over UC-Santa Barbara, including 13 fifth-inning runs to boost the Longhorns to their first win. Texas connected on nine hits, while junior center fielder Lindsey Stephens went 2-for-3, including her third career grand slam. Freshman pitcher Erica Wright took the mound and recorded a shutout with five strikeouts in her first collegiate victory.

Texas didn’t fare as well against No. 2 Oregon. With just two hits, the Ducks shut out the Longhorns on their way to a 9-0 win. Sophomore pitcher Tiarra Davis struggled through three innings, allowing five earned runs on eight hits.

In its third game of the tournament, Texas powered through to beat Northwestern 5—4 in a matchup that came down to the final swing. In the bottom of the seventh, with Texas down 4-3, Davis stepped up to the plate as a designated player. In a role reversal from her usual spot on the mound, Davis drew a lead-off walk and became the tying run on first. She then advanced on a sacrifice fly by sophomore second baseman Kelli Hanzel and waited on second, ready to run. With two outs and a full count, junior catcher Erin Shireman connected on a pitch from Northwestern starter Amy Letourneau, sending it over the left field wall for a walk-off, two-run homer. 

Sophomore Lauren Slatten started the game in the circle for the Longhorns, allowing three earned runs while striking out four in four innings, but it was freshman Kristen Clark who completed the game. Letting up just one hit and walking two in the final inning, Clark earned her first collegiate win.

Despite a hard fought game full of lead changes and 10 hits for Texas, the Longhorns fell to Stanford, 10-9, Saturday. Texas battled back late in the game down 10–7 but could only cut the lead to one. With two outs and one runner on base in the bottom of the seventh, sophomore shortstop Devon Tunning sent a long ball to left center that looked like it might clear the fence, only to fall into the glove of Stanford left fielder Tylyn Wells just short of the wall. Wright recorded her first loss, letting in three unearned runs on four hits and walking one in two and two thirds innings.

To round out the weekend, Texas faced its second ranked opponent of the tournament in No. 16 Arizona State. After starting out 2–2 on the weekend, the Longhorns scored six runs in the first inning to contribute to the win. On 11 hits, Texas concluded their time in the Kajikawa Classic with a 9–4 victory over the Sun Devils. Stephens went 3-for-4 with a double, triple and a home run, and, throughout the weekend, she hit a team-best .471. Wright earned her second win with seven strikeouts, walking three and allowing just four earned runs and eight hits in seven complete innings.

Texas plays Friday against Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne in Austin.

After winning the “ace” position last year, sophomore Tiarra Davis hopes to build on her freshman performance, when she struck out 176 batters and won the Big 12 Rookie of the Year.
Photo Credit: Shweta Gulati | Daily Texan Staff

Led by sophomore pitcher Tiarra Davis, who now has a full season under her belt, the Texas pitching staff looks to be a dominant force as they kick off the season Friday in the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Arizona. 

“We’ve got five [pitchers] that we’re working,” head coach Connie Clark said. “A big staff, we’ll rotate them through, we’ll see what it looks like, but Tiarra brings some really good things to the table.”

As a freshman, Davis recorded a 2.38 ERA, holding opposing hitters to a .208 batting average while striking out 176 in 200 innings last season. She wasn’t just a threat in the circle, as she hit .313 with 25 RBIs and 13 runs, ultimately earning her recognition as Big 12 Freshman of the Year.

“I think going off of last year’s season, I have a basis to build on,” Davis said. “I’m really looking forward to the season and what it has to bring.”

Davis, who threw three one-hitters and six complete game shutouts in her freshman year, said she hopes she is ready to step up to the mound for the Longhorns to take them to the next level.

“Coach Clark and I had a number of conversations last year about me believing in myself,” Davis said. “This year, I’m hoping to be the top pitcher in our conference.”

Davis isn’t the only pitcher on the team, however. 

Davis is joined by senior Gabby Smith and sophomore Lauren Slatten as veterans in the rotation. Freshman pitchers Kristen Clark and Erica Wright will debut this spring.

“We’ve got a great freshman, Erica Wright, in the mix who just competes hard,” Clark said. “She’s got that kind of ‘wild thing’ piece going on.”

Joining Kristen Clark and Wright as new additions to the team are shortstop/outfielder Alyssa Angel and catcher/utility Randel Leahy.

“Our freshman class isn’t huge, but they are definitely difference makers,” junior second baseman Stephanie Ceo said. “I truly believe [we have] a great chance to make it all the way this year.”

In the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll, Texas is ranked No. 25 going into the season, and the team is projected to finish third in the Big 12. After amassing a 35–23 record last year and capturing the school’s 10th consecutive NCAA tournament bid, the team is looking to make the leap to the next tier and advance beyond regionals. 

“I think this team is very optimistic,” Clark said.

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.”

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.

The Longhorns struggled all weekend to figure out the Jaywhawk pitching staff.

In the first two games of the series, Texas only managed to score four runs on eight hits and through four innings in the rubber match on Sunday, it was more of the same from the Longhorns.

But then the fifth inning rolled around and after the first three batters of the inning reached on singles, the floodgates finally opened for the Longhorns. Seven runs crossed the plate for Texas in the inning, including a walk-off three-run triple from freshman left fielder Stephanie Wong as the Longhorns won 8-0 to take a 2-1 series victory.

“We were looking for one pitch,” Wong said.

The Longhorns struggled Friday and Saturday to figure out Kansas ace Kelsey Kessler, who despite not throwing fast, kept Texas off balance with movement. Texas helped her out in those games swinging early in the count.

On Sunday, however, the Longhorns made Kessler work, forcing 10 full-counts against the sophomore. While it didn’t have an immediate effect as Texas scored only one run through the first four innings, the strategy did force her to throw 62 pitches through the first two innings.

Head coach Connie Clark said they were trying to avoid the “junk” from Kessler.

“We were just trying to be more patient in general and get pitches that we can hit and handle better,” Clark said.

Then came the fifth inning. Wong, who had come into the game in a slump, led off the inning with a single to center, which was followed by back-to-back bunt base hits by sophomore second baseman Stephanie Ceo and senior center fielder Brejae Washington. A ground out, squeeze bunt and two singles upped the Texas lead to 5-0 before Wong stepped to the plate for the second time in the inning.

With the bases loaded, Wong took a 1-2 pitch to left which Kansas left fielder Taylor Hatfield misplayed, leading to a three-run triple to give Texas the run-rule win.

“It felt great to finally drive the ball,” Wong said. “I’ve been working through some things and it all came together on that pitch.”

The offensive burst came just in time for freshman ace Tiarra Davis, who had to bounce back from a rough Saturday start. In that game, Davis only pitched an inning, while giving up three runs in a 5-2 loss.

But in the game Sunday, Davis pitched with confidence, allowing only one hit in the first three innings. In the fourth, Kansas loaded the bases with one out. But, like she’s done all season, Davis managed to get out of the jam with a foul out to the catcher and a pop out to short.

“I had a talk with Mandy [Ogle] and Coach Clark right before I went out there and they just really calmed me down,” Davis said.

Texas will play Baylor twice in the span of six days, traveling up to Waco to make up the game that was rained out on March 23 and then hosting the Bears next Sunday. In the first meeting, Texas opened conference play behind a dominant performance from Davis and solid hitting for a 4-1 win.

While the offense has been up and down over the past three series, Davis said that the big last inning gives them momentum going into the final two games.

“It’s about finishing out strong and we’ve got two more opportunities to do that,” Clark said.