Michigan

Photo Credit: Anthony Mireles | Daily Texan Staff

Longhorn men handle Rice on Saturday

Make that seven straight wins for the Longhorns.

No. 10 men’s tennis handled Rice on Saturday in Houston with a 7-0 victory. The Longhorns didn’t lose a set and improved to 11–2 on the season. It was Texas’ second consecutive 7-0 win after its victory over Pennsylvania on Tuesday.

The match opened with the Longhorns capturing the doubles point for the 10th time in 13 matches this spring. The point was clinched by junior Adrian Ortiz and sophomore Christian Sigsgaard with a 6-1 win over Rice’s Conrad Russell and Jacob Eskeland at second doubles.

In the singles pool, 60th-ranked junior Harrison Scott, who earned Big 12 Player of the Week honors last week, started the Longhorns off with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Rice’s Mohamed Abdel-Aziz. Shortly afterward, sophomore Yuya Ito extended the Longhorns’ lead to 3-0 with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Sumit Sarkar. Ito skyrocketed in the new edition of ITA singles rankings last week, jumping from No. 118 to No. 46.

The team match was ultimately clinched by junior Colin Markes at sixth singles. After a back and forth first set, Markes squeezed just enough out of the tank to defeat Rice’s Ashton Duke, winning 9-7 in a tiebreaker. Markes cruised through the second set, winning 6-2. Juniors Leonardo Telles and Rodrigo Banzer were both victorious in their respective matches, as well as sophomore Christian Sigsgaard who, like Markes, won a grueling first set by way of 9-7 tiebreaker victory.

Texas head coach Michael Center was pleased at the way his team came out ready to play and produced during crunch time.

“Though there were a few inconsistencies here and there,” Center said. “I thought we really stepped it up when we needed to today.”

The Longhorns will have their work cut out for them this week. They travel to Los Angeles for a matchup against No. 13 USC on Wednesday.

Texas women shred Michigan despite poor weather

After a strong showing last weekend against Ohio State, No. 14 Texas (9–4) wasn’t hindered by the poor weather in returning to dominate another Big Ten opponent — No. 37 Michigan — on Sunday.

Prior to this weekend’s play, the Intercollegiate Tennis Associate updated its team, singles and doubles rankings, which resulted in a lot of movement for the Longhorns. The ranking updates pushed the Texas team and singles rankings higher, and also moved sophomore Bianca Turati back to the top singles spot in the nation. But that wasn’t the biggest surprise from the ITA release.

Following a two-week break from the season, the Texas women returned to play against Ohio State with a different doubles lineup after having suffered consecutive losses at the doubles point to competitive opponents. The change paid off for the Longhorns in a win at the doubles point against Ohio State and launched sophomore Petra Granic and freshman Bojana Markovic to the No. 44 spot on the ITA national doubles rankings. It’s the first time a Texas doubles team has been ranked in weeks.

The changes to the doubles lineup look to have had a lasting impact on the Longhorns, as they began their successful day against Michigan by winning the doubles point, which included a critical win from Texas’ No. 44 tandem Granic and Markovic.

After taking a 1-0 lead, the Longhorns ran away with the win. Freshman Marta Perez-Mur showed no mercy, dropping her opponent 6-0, 6-0 to extend the Longhorns’ lead to 2-0. Soon after, No. 34 sophomore Anna Turati and freshman Bojana Markovic captured consecutive wins to finish off the Wolverines.

Poor weather looked like it could potentially derail the Longhorns from playing outdoors in their brand new Texas Tennis Center, but the two teams stuck it out.

“Just calling it like it is, it was an awful day for tennis,” Texas head coach Howard Joffe said. “I feel like we applied ourselves probably quite a bit better than Michigan today, and that was, more than anything, the difference.”

Photo Credit: Anthony Mireles | Daily Texan Staff

Few things in sports provide a sense of pride and accomplishment to an athlete the way winning on home turf does. But through the first two days of the Texas Invitational, the Longhorns have struggled to do that.

Texas beat a ranked team in No. 20 Michigan and added a win versus Virginia Tech this weekend. But the Longhorns also lost to No. 21 Ohio State and Wichita State.

Texas finally recorded a win against a top-25 team on the opening day of the tournament, but its second such win failed to come the next day. Texas has a record of 2–2 in the tournament heading into the final day of play, where the team will face Michigan once again.

“Our communication and our chemistry are really big strengths,” sophomore catcher Taylor Ellsworth said. “All of us get along, and we all hang out off the field. We’re never alone — we’re always together. I think just having the chemistry is a strength that brings you together as a team. You have that trust in the person, on and off the field.”

In Saturday’s first game of the doubleheader, Texas had to rely on a rally to defeat the Hokies, trailing by two runs until the fourth inning. Freshman Chloe Romero started for the Longhorns and got rocked for three runs in just a third of an inning. Romero was relieved by junior Paige von Sprecken.

Von Sprecken continued her strong start to the season, bringing her record to 3–1, after recording two shutouts earlier this season. Texas defeated Virginia Tech, 3-2.

“Paige von Sprecken is doing a lot of things for us this year,” Texas head coach Connie Clark said. “She’s one of our top hitters and needs to be in the lineup whether she’s in the circle or not. Working at first, working in the outfield — she’s doing really well.”

In the second game, senior Kristen Clark started for Texas and pitched four strong innings of two earned-run ball. Junior Brooke Bolinger came into the game to collect the last couple of innings. She gave up a grand slam in the top of the seventh to give the Buckeyes an 8-5 lead. The Longhorns weren’t able to recover.

The depth of the Texas pitching staff was on full display in both games — when one pitcher grew tired or was being out-played, another came in. Having so many pitchers pitch in one game can be challenging, but with time, could be a weapon for the team.

“It takes some getting used to, just knowing what pitches each pitcher throws,” senior captain Randel Leahy said. “We’ve been working on that a lot in practice.”

Texas plays No. 20 Michigan at 1:30 p.m. Sunday to close out the Texas Invitational at McCombs Field.

Junior catcher Randel Leahy attempts to hit an incoming pitch. Leahy has been impressed with Taylor Ellsworth’s quick development at the same position.
Photo Credit: Mary Pistorius | Daily Texan Staff

Two steps forward, one step back.

That’s been the mantra for the Texas softball team so far in 2018.

On a Friday where the Longhorns showed promise in a 3-0 victory against No. 20 Michigan, they followed it up with an even more disappointing 7-5 loss to Wichita State.

“It’s such a game of momentum, and I felt we gave them a little bit of momentum tonight,” Texas head coach Connie Clark said. “We had the opportunity to put our ace in the game, and we have the firepower to put more runs up, but we just didn’t get that done.”

All started well for the Longhorns (5–6) at the beginning of the nightcap against the Shockers, as the Texas lineup saw a quick revival of life against Wichita State.

An offensive onslaught began in the second inning when sophomore shortstop Kaitlyn Slack and freshman third baseman MK Tedder combined for back-to-back singles. On the next at-bat, Wichita State’s Bailey Lange fired a wild pitch, scoring Tedder from third and giving the Longhorns a 1-0 lead.

After junior catcher Randel Leahy was hit by a pitch, sophomore outfielder Tuesday DerMargosian looped a single to left field, preparing a bases-loaded situation for a pinch-hitting Ciera Schick.

On the first pitch she saw, the junior infielder lined a ball to right field to score two more Texas runners, improving the Longhorns’ lead to 3-0. Texas added one more run shortly after thanks to another Shockers wild pitch.

But Wichita State didn’t go away quietly.

With two outs and the bases loaded in the top of the third, the Shockers’ Laurie Derrico slapped a line drive off the centerfield wall in order to cut the Longhorns’ lead in half.

Texas responded with another run of their own in the bottom of the third. With a runner on third, Tedder roped a RBI double down the left-field line for her second hit of the night, putting Texas up 5-2.

But Wichita State erased the Longhorns’ lead in the blink of an eye in the following frame. With the bases loaded again, sophomore first baseman Ryleigh Buck doubled to left-center field, clearing the bases and tying the game at five a piece.

Unable to respond in the bottom half of the inning, Texas opened the door for Wichita State to seize control of the game in the top of the fifth.

After opening with a lead-off triple, junior catcher Madison Perrigan scored on a RBI single from junior right fielder Asea Webber to make the score 6-5. Senior left fielder Morgan Palmer added another run to Wichita State’s lead with a RBI single of her own, driving Weber in with a looping single just over second base.

The Longhorns were unable to respond from there, leaving runners on base in the bottom of the sixth and seventh innings, losing 7-5.

“I thought we had a little bit of lull (in terms of playing with energy),” Clark said. “I know it’s late, but we have to keep the energy going and keep the pedal down.”

The problems that plagued the Longhorns against Wichita State were mostly absent in their earlier game against Michigan.

Junior starting pitcher Brooke Bolinger was sensational in working around Michigan hitters, accounting for a complete-game shutout, seven strikeouts and only five hits.

The Texas bats finally came to life in the bottom of the third.

Following singles by sophomore first baseman Malory Schattle and freshman second baseman Janae Jefferson that gave Texas its first two hits of the game, sophomore catcher Taylor Ellsworth uncorked a hanging pitch for a three-run homer over the left-field wall to put Texas up 3-0.

“I knew my team was down and we needed something to get going,” Ellsworth said. “I was just looking for a hard hit, and my hard hit ended up going over.”

The Wolverines loaded the bases in the top of the fifth — their second time on the night. But Bolinger was able to work out of the frame without any damage, and Texas cruised the rest of the way to the shutout win.

Texas returns to action on Saturday for another doubleheader in the Texas Invitational, with games against Virginia Tech and No. 21 Ohio State.

“Our energy can’t get down,” Ellsworth said. “We have to continue to work hard and take stuff from each game and just build on top of it.”