Longhorns ride luck of O’Leary to win over Tennessee

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Photo Credit: Joshua Guenther | Daily Texan Staff

The Longhorns closed out the Tennessee Invitational with a 2-0 St. Patrick’s Day win over No. 6 Tennessee.

Texas dropped their second game on Friday to the Volunteers, scoring five runs late in the game to Tennessee’s nine.

Sunday’s win saw improvements from the whole team. It especially showed on the defensive end.  Texas kept the Volunteers scoreless for all seven innings, and pitcher Shea O’Leary proved she was worthy of the weekend’s final start with another solid performance in the circle.

“Shea O’Leary, what can I say, a tremendous performance, probably the best pitching performance of the year by our staff, and we really needed it,” Texas head coach Mike White said.

The six-foot-two-inch pitcher has yet to lose a game in all nine of her decisions. Sunday, O’Leary played a complete game, continuing a streak of 12.1 consecutive innings without giving up an earned run. The freshman’s ERA improved to a 0.38 as she made history for Texas with the best start for a freshman pitching campaign at 9-0.  

O’Leary’s success was supported by a defense that made some game-changing stops. Left fielder Tuesday DerMargosian, who was put in as a defensive placement prior to the sixth inning, made a diving catch which sealed the third out, bringing the game into the seventh inning.

“We had defense behind (O’Leary),” White said. “Overall, I thought it was a really good defensive effort, and we were pumped to pick up a good win against a good team.”

Texas’ first run was scored on a Tennessee error and the play somewhat mirrored the way the Longhorns lost to the Volunteers two days prior.

“Well, we took opportunity of a break they made and it was kind of like the other night where they took advantage of our breaks, but that’s the only shot we got really,” White said. “I mean their pitcher was shutting us down, and we were struggling to get the ball.”

Nevertheless, left fielder Kaitlyn Washington was able to capitalize on the mistake and get the Longhorns the first point of the game.

Texas begins Big 12 play on Friday against Iowa State. Throughout the tournament, the Longhorns weren’t perfect but showed their ability to improve and correct mistakes when a quick turnaround was needed.

“We’re working on getting better, and I think so far this trip has been good for us,” White said. “We’ve had to play in different environments in an away situation which could happen postseason, and I think we’re learning a lot. We’re learning from our mistakes, and thats what its about. Sometimes you don't win all the games and its hard but right now I think we’re learning.”

Texas will travel to Nashville on Monday to face Lipscomb before returning to Red & Charline McCombs Field for the series against Iowa State.