Coming home after what was their toughest road test of the year at Nebraska, Texas should have had a break against Stephen F. Austin, but the No. 3 Longhorns came out flat, resulting in their first home loss of the season, 1-0.
SFA (11-28) came right out of the gates and quickly loaded the bases against sophomore Kim Bruins in her first start of the year — thanks to a leadoff walk, a quick single and then a fielder’s choice that went awry when Nadia Taylor couldn’t tag out a runner on third after fielding a sharp grounder.
Bruins, who is coming back from injuries that have nagged her since the end of the 2010 season, struck out the next batter and looked like she had control of the inning. In what proved to be the mistake that cost the team the game, Bruins sent the next batter to first on a walk, resulting in the winning run walking in from third.
In the bottom of the first, the Longhorns (34-4) started the way they have all year — hot. On a Taylor Hoagland triple into deep center field, it seemed it would be just another day of production from a team that came in hitting .342. It wasn’t to be, as the next three batters for the Longhorns were retired in order.
“Getting a leadoff triple, you can’t ask for more than that; and to just not score her is really tough and hard for us,” said junior Lexy Bennett.
From there, it was a pitcher’s duel for both teams, as neither club surrendered a run, although Texas was not without its chances.
In the second, Torie Schmidt hit a one-out double, and then advanced to third on a wild pitch. Unfortunately, in what turned out to be a theme for the night, they failed to score her. Texas had similar chances in the fourth, sixth and seventh innings, when they had a runner in scoring position and just could not find a way to get the ball in play and send the runners home.
“They made the plays when they needed to make the plays, and we had several opportunities where we needed to get things strung together and we didn’t,” said Texas head coach Connie Clark.
The team looked like they came out of the gates a little fatigued, after coming off of their toughest streak of the year, with three consecutive close-fought victories over ranked Big 12 rivals A&M and Nebraska.
“They were a little bit tired at practice yesterday. I think it’s a good reminder that you just got to come out and have that energy,” Clark said.
It didn’t help the team that they faced pitcher Carlie Thomas, who came out with her best stuff, keeping the team off-balance all night with her off-speed pitches. That became more and more effective as the night wore on because the Longhorns started to press.
“I think in hindsight, we could have been more patient, took more looks. Sometimes, that happens when you are playing down one-nothing,” Clark said.
The Longhorns will have a chance to redeem themselves quickly however, as in-state rivals North Texas come to McCombs field tomorrow night.