It hasn’t taken long for Holly Kern to get used to the college game.
In just her second career start, Kern tossed a complete-game shutout in Texas’ 6-0 win over Stephen F. Austin on Wednesday. Kern retired the side three times in six innings of her Longhorns debut last Friday, when she allowed one run on three hits during a 9-1 win over North Texas.
“I was hoping to get [the first shutout] in my first game,” Kern said.
The freshman from Plano didn’t set the Lady Jacks down in order until the sixth inning Wednesday, stranding seven runners, but kept Stephen F. Austin from crossing the plate all night.
It was a much crisper performance than the one the Longhorns turned in last Sunday, when they squeaked past North Texas, 5-4, in the Texas Classic title game.
“We talked to the captains,” head coach Connie Clark said. “They were the first to admit that their warm-up could have been a bit sharper on Sunday. They set the tone. Our captains sured things up today.”
Kern got some early help when Texas tacked on three runs in the second inning. Taylor Thom got things started with a leadoff double in that frame but was thrown out at home by Lady Jacks second baseman Lindsay Campbell. Gabby Smith’s RBI single and Taylor Hoagland’s two-run blooper into left gave the Longhorns a 3-0 lead.
“It was nice to have that run support,” Kern said. “Once we scored some runs, I knew I could relax a little bit.”
Hoagland drove in her third run of the game when she singled home Stephanie Ceo in the fourth inning. Mandy Ogle and Smith were thrown down after Ceo’s leadoff triple, but Hoagland came through with a line drive to left, giving Texas its fourth two-out run of the game. Twenty of the 38 runs the Longhorns have scored this season have come with two outs.
“We’ve been feeding off each other,” Hoagland said. “I think everyone is going up with the mentality of putting the team in a good position and taking it one at-bat at a time. Being consistent has been our main focus.”
Texas, which has won each of its first 10 games in the last two seasons, improved to 6-0 with the win. More importantly, Kern showed how deep the Longhorns’ staff, which now boasts a 0.72 ERA, really is.