right fielder

Senior pitcher Blaire Luna fires a pitch during Texas’ 6-0 season-opening victory over Texas A&M Corpus-Christi on Thursday night. She struck out 14 hitters in what was her fifth career no-hitter, with the only Islanders reaching base via a pair of walks and an error.

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

With right fielder Jamise Jackson up to bat at the top of the seventh, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi hoped to redeem itself. Three balls, two strikes, two outs — all Jackson wanted to do was get on base and help her team curb a six-run deficit.

Texas pitcher Blaire Luna had other ideas, instead earning her 14th strikeout of the game to clinch a 6-0 season-opening win for No. 7 Texas. The no-hitter marked Luna’s first since March 17, 2011, and her two walks were all that kept her from a perfect game.

“I really tried to stay pitch-to-pitch and not get consumed with the number of strikeouts,” Luna said. “Knowing I had a no-hitter going, I tried to zero in. My confidence is a lot better this year.”

Junior second baseman Karina Scott opened the stout offensive effort in the first inning with a two-out, two-strike RBI single to right field. The hit allowed junior Brejae Washington to score from second base after stealing it beforehand. The solid start ushered in a strong second inning as Luna quickly struck out three consecutive batters.

Third baseman Taylor Hoagland stepped up to the plate after two outs, two walks and a failure to convert left Mandy Ogle and Gabby Smith on base before her. Hoagland preceded to crush the ball out of the diamond for a three-run homer.

“I learned to treat every ball like my last, because in retrospect, it is,” Hoagland said of her performance. “All week it was hard to focus because I was so excited for tonight, and to come out here and show out like we did was awesome.”

Hoagland was walked in all of her remaining at-bats, as the Islanders no longer looked to pitch her the ball. Hoagland wasn’t fazed. She stole two bases, as did Washington, who brought her school record career total to 67. Hoagland stole her 59th and 60th bases, good for the fourth-most steals in school history.

“I’m just going to steal second and either way, I’ll help my team get into our position,” she said.

Capping off the offensive excitement, freshman Erin Shireman drove in Lindsey Stephens on a home run to the camera stand in her first collegiate at-bat.

“Honestly this is one of the best nights of my life so far,” Shireman said of her debut. “ I was going into bat just trying to stay calm and not think too much but as soon as I hit that ball, I knew it was gone. It felt amazing.”

The Longhorns, now 1-0, introduced all six freshmen into play as they continued their undefeated season opener streak. Texas is 108-9 in season openers and tossed its 11th shutout against the Islanders, who the Longhorns are 23-3 against all-time. 

The Longhorns return to the field against North Texas on Friday at 6 p.m. and Memphis on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Published on February 8, 2013 as "Luna's fifth no-hitter fuels Horns". 

Notebook

Mark Payton runs the bases in a recent game for Texas. Payton is second on the team with 53 total bases and six doubles in 29 games.

Photo Credit: Rebecca Howeth | Daily Texan Staff

A team’s leadoff batter has one crucial objective —­ get on base.

That’s why it’s no wonder that sophomore right fielder Mark Payton, who has reached base in each of the Longhorns’ 26 games this season, has become a mainstay at the top of the Texas lineup. A .263 hitter a year ago, Payton has visibly improved since his freshman campaign, raising his batting average to .304 and taking his on-base percentage from .353 in 2011 to .401 this season. Payton has proved to be an asset in the field. Payton has a perfect fielding percentage, notching 49 putouts without making an error.

“As a leadoff batter, my job is to get on base,” Payton said. “I’m very fortunate to have that going for me right now, but it can change at any moment, so I have to keep the same mentality and hopefully keep it rolling.”

Trio of youngsters settling as new members of weekend rotation

Last year, Nathan Thornhill was a freshman, and was used mostly in middle relief situations, but now he’s the top dog in Texas’ starting rotation. Thornhill, a sophomore who leads the Longhorns with 52 innings pitched has solidified himself as the team’s ace and has picked up victories in each of his last two starts. Wins over Cal and Texas Tech brought Thornhill’s record to 4-2 on the season and his ERA to 3.81, as the Cedar Park product has struck out more than three times as many batters as he’s walked.

Unlike Thornhill, the other two starters — freshmen Parker French and Ricky Jacquez — did not begin the season as starters. After putting in several impressive relief outings, French and Jacquez have earned spots in Texas’ rotation, starting the final two games in each of the Longhorns’ last four weekend series.

Errors on the rise in 2012 compared to 2011

Texas has taken a step backwards defensively this year.

The Longhorns currently hold a .966 fielding percentage, good for 106th in the NCAA and 5th in the Big 12. They have committed 39 errors in 29 games (1.34 errors per game), compared to 47 errors in 68 games last season (0.69 errors per game). Despite a struggling defense, Texas has won 12 of its last 16 games and is tied with Texas A&M for 2nd place in the Big 12 standings at 7-2, behind only Baylor, who has triumphed in each of its 12 conference games.

Printed on Monday, April 9, 2012 as: Payton getting on base from leadoff spot