Randel Leahy

Freshman third baseman Randel Leahy had a career game Wednesday against UT-Arlington. Leahy blasted a grand slam in the first inning of play and clinched the Texas victory with a walk-off, solo home run in the fifth.
Photo Credit: Graeme Hamilton | Daily Texan Staff

It didn’t take long for Texas to come out victorious over UT-Arlington on Wednesday night.

Behind freshman third baseman Randel Leahy’s two-home-run night, the Longhorns run-ruled the Mavericks, 8–0. 

Texas (28–12) pounced on UT-Arlington (26–20) from the start. 

Sophomore pitcher Tiarra Davis took the mound for the Longhorns and held the Mavericks scoreless. In the bottom of the first, the Longhorns launched an offensive strike. They started off quickly with a walk and a single from sophomore shortstop Devon Tunning and sophomore outfielder Stephanie Wong, respectively, but a setback occurred as the Mavericks retired the next two batters.

Then, with two outs and the bases loaded, junior catcher Erin Shireman sparked a rally with a single to right field, knocking in the first two runs of the game. The next two hitters connected for two more singles to load the bases as Leahy stepped up to the plate. As the ball traveled from the mound to the plate, Leahy held her stance, connected on the pitch and launched the ball over the left-field wall for her first career grand slam to extend Texas’ lead to 6–0.

“Great at-bats for Randel tonight,” Texas head coach Connie Clark said. “She’s really come along, and we’ve talked about it this season that she’s somebody we wanted to try to get in the lineup every single day.” 

After Davis retired three in the second, Tunning and Wong struck again. Tunning led off the second inning with a single but was put out on a fielder’s choice off Wong’s bat. To complete the frame, Wong stole second, advanced to third on a ground out and crossed the plate on a passed ball to make the score 7–0.

The next two innings were scoreless, thanks to Texas senior pitcher Gabby Smith’s six strikeouts.

Freshman Erica Wright came into the game in the fifth inning to pitch a perfect inning.

“Tonight was really about getting our pitchers work in a midweek, nonconference game,” Clark said. “All three of our pitchers did a great job of throwing to all zones and mixing speeds efficiently. That’s what we need is for those three to get stronger and stronger as we go on this season.”

In the bottom of the fifth, the Mavericks sent two Longhorns back to the dugout and needed just one more out for another offensive opportunity to get back in the game. But Leahy hit her second home run of the game, to the same wall as before, to clinch the victory.

“[The softball I saw] was pretty big,” Leahy said. “It was nice to come out tonight and redeem ourselves.”

Clark recognized Leahy’s success on a holistic level.

“Obviously, the grand slam was sweet, but to get the walk-off was tremendous,” Clark said.

The Mavericks were the last nonconference opponent on Texas’ schedule. Four Big 12 series are all that remain in the regular season for
the Longhorns. 

Junior outfielder Lindsey Stephens eyes a pitch headed her way. Stephens hit a grand slam in win over UC-Santa Barbara.
Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

In another successful tournament, No. 25 Texas picked up four more wins to take it to a 13–7 record this weekend.

With six players hitting over .300 before the beginning of the Texas Invitational, Texas kicked off play on the Red & Charline McCombs Field with a nail-biting walk-off victory over Dartmouth. With two outs and a runner in scoring position, freshman third baseman Randel Leahy hit a game-winning double in the bottom of the seventh, scoring junior catcher Erin Shireman in the process. Freshman pitcher Erica Wright earned the win, improving her record to 4–3.

In the next game, Texas rotated its pitching staff, rekindling a veteran flame in the team.

“We’re moving them around a little bit and trying to make sure we have the best puzzle pieces set up and playing together,” head coach Connie Clark said at a press conference Wednesday. “So you may see a few different looks.”

One of these looks included senior pitcher Gabby Smith, who made her second start of the season over the weekend. 

“[Gabby’s] still working back from an injury, and she’s ready to go but just hadn’t had the number of pitches under her belt yet,” Clark said. “I think she’ll be good coming into this weekend.”

On Friday evening, Smith threw a career-tying 11 strikeouts in six innings to earn her first win this season and help Texas take down Texas Southern, 5–3. Leahy and junior center fielder Lindsey Stephens hit a home run a piece, and Shireman had a triple and two RBIs to help Texas rally from two runs down to win the game.

As temperatures dropped Saturday morning, Texas also dropped the third game of the tournament. Sophomore second baseman Mickenzi Krpec hit her first long ball, but no one else made their way around home plate as the Longhorns fell to Lamar, 9-1. After a slight freezing-rain delay, Texas fell behind early on as Lamar jumped to a 5–0 after one inning of play. Over the course of the jagged performance, the Longhorns recorded three errors to go along with their solo run and left with a 2–1 record in the tournament with two games to play.

“Anytime that you get away from focusing on yourself and you get consumed with [who the other team is], you get in trouble,” Clark said.

Sunday, the Longhorns ignored Dartmouth for their second matchup of the tournament, this time taking a 7–1 victory against the Big Green. In a role reversal, Texas batted in five runs in the first inning to start off strong. Wright, with a career-high 10 strikeouts and six hits allowed, posted another solid performance to earn her a 5–3 record, though the Big Green broke her impressive 28-inning streak of not allowing an earned run.

In their final game of the tournament, the Longhorns once again dominated Texas Southern, this time with a 4–0 win.

Texas plays North Carolina next in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in the Carolina Classic, its last tournament before the season.