No. 6/6 Softball tops DePaul 9-0
Feb. 17, 2013
HOUSTON - Junior Taylor Thom hit two more home runs and senior pitcher Blaire Luna struck out 12 batters, including seven of the first nine she faced, as No. 6/6 Texas earned a 9-0 victory over DePaul Sunday morning in its final game of the Hilton Houston Plaza Invitational. The victory extended Texas' winning streak to 11 games, the second-longest string to start a year in program history. The 2003 squad owns the record with 16-straight wins to begin the season.
Thom went four-for-four with two runs scored and four runs driven in. She finished the weekend hitting .500 (8-of-16) with four home runs, 13 runs batted in and eight runs scored.
Luna (5-0) allowed just one base runner during the contest, a double in the fifth inning, and struck out more than 10 batters for the third time this season. Hannah Penna (1-1) took the loss for the Blue Demons, throwing five innings and allowing six runs on 10 hits and two walks. She also fanned two. Morgan Maize threw the final frame for DePaul, allowing three runs on two hits and a walk.
Texas jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Junior Brejae Washington reached on a one-out bunt single, stole second and moved to third on an illegal pitch. Senior Kim Bruins grounded out, but junior Karina Scott kept the inning alive with a walk. Thom hit the chalk down the right-field line for a single that plated Washington, giving UT the early advantage. A fly out ended the threat.
Luna struck out the side in the second and UT added to its lead with two runs in the bottom of the inning. Freshman Stephanie Ceo started the frame with a single, but was caught stealing. Junior Mandy Ogle drew a walk and moved to second on a single up the middle from sophomore Gabby Smith. Ogle and Smith each advanced a base on a wild pitch and came home on a double down the left-field line from senior Taylor Hoagland. A pair of groundouts allowed Penna to escape without further damage.
In the top of the fifth, DePaul recorded its only base runner of the contest as Megan Coronado dropped a double in front of a charging Washington in center field. Luna responded with a strikeout and pop out to end the frame.
The Longhorns added three more runs in the bottom of the fifth. Freshman Holly Kern led off with her first career home run, depositing the ball over the wall in left center for a 4-0 advantage. After a strikeout, Thom followed with her third home run in two games with a solo shot to left center. After a groundout, Ceo reached on an infield single and advanced to second as the throw from the third baseman hit Ceo in the head and rolled into right field. Freshman pinch hitter Lindsey Stephens drove in Ceo with a single up the middle to make it a 6-0 Texas lead. The RBI was the first of Stephens' career.
Luna retired the Blue Demons in order in the sixth with two strikeouts to bring her total to 12 for the game.
The Longhorns added three runs and ended the game in the bottom of the sixth. Marlee Gabaldon led off the inning with a pinch-hit single. After a walk to Kern, a wild pitch moved runners to second and third. Erin Shireman brought Gabaldon home on a sacrifice fly. Then Thom ended the game with a two-run home run off of the scoreboard in right field, giving Texas the 9-0 victory.
Texas returns to action Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. against Houston Baptist (3-0). It will be the first meeting in series history between the two.
On what the team needs to work on before this week’s home games: It’s always good to get back [home]. One thing we do need to work on is short game. But when you start hitting the long ball, you don’t need to play small ball. That’s one thing we are going to need at some point in time. There’s always something to work on. It will be good to get back to practice on Tuesday and then be at home all next week.
On the team’s hitting performance: Just tremendous. What we like is that you can see the hitters improving. We have been working a lot with our athletic trainer in our player development area at home. Not only are there hitting stations, but there are also vision training stations.
I love to think they are training the muscles in their eyes, and that can help them get that extra confidence of seeing the ball. We were very selective and very patient, so whenever the pitchers came into the zone, we were in favorable counts. You didn’t see us panic when we got to two strikes, we saw a lot of pitches and we were able to deliver. So a tremendous overall team performance.
On Blaire’s Luna pitching: Luna was tremendous. She didn’t have to go much for us yesterday. That’s a testament to how well Gabby [Smith] threw yesterday and how well Holly [Kern] did. Today was about going with her just to get used to that work three days in a row. I thought she was very sharp.
Mandy [Ogle] started [at catcher] but we were able to go to Erin Shireman and get her some work behind the plate. That helps develop a very strong battery for us. I thought Blaire was great. She was ahead in the count most of the day and she had great stuff.
Junior SS Taylor Thom
On her performance: The ball just looked like a beach ball to be honest with you. I was seeing the ball really well and I worked hard all week. So, I guess the hard work paid off.
On what the team can work on moving forward: Just continue to do the little things right. When you continue to do the little things right, everything will come together. That’s what we need to keep focusing on.