Softball avoids late rally, knocks off Ohio State, 6-5
CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif. -- The 10th-ranked Texas Softball team grabbed an early lead and avoided a seventh inning Ohio State rally as it downed the Buckeyes, 6-5, Saturday at the Palm Springs Classic.
The Longhorns used three hits in the first inning of play to claim a quick, 1-0 lead over the Buckeyes and they would never look back. Texas' freshman shortstop Loryn Johnson delivered a one-out single through the right side to start the rally, and Megan Willis' hard-hit double to the right centerfield gap plated Johnson, giving UT an early edge.
Texas (11-3) added two more runs in the second frame, using a one-out single by Crystal Saenz to get things going. MicKayla Padilla and Shannon Thomas then reached based courtesy of a walk and a hit by pitch, loading the bases for Johnson. The freshman shortstop hit a hard ground ball to shortstop and Saenz was gunned down at the plate on a fielder's choice. Saenz' hard slide took out Buckeyes' catcher Lauren Daykin as she was attempting to turn a double play, sending an errant throw into right field and allowing Padilla and Thomas to come home.
"After taking an early lead we did a good job of staying focused," noted head coach Connie Clark. "This game was a great challenge for us mentally and I feel like we had a very gritty performance across the board."
Ohio State (4-4) answered the Texas rally in the top of third, evening the score at three apiece on leftfielder Megan Schwab's three-run home run to straightaway centerfield.
The Longhorns responded quickly, plating two runs in the bottom of the third inning to reclaim the lead, 5-3. Sophomore rightfielder Kacie Gaskin led off the frame with a walk and came all the way around to score on Jacqueline Williams' RBI double. Williams advanced to third on a throwing error by the leftfielder and then scored on Saenz' RBI single to leftfield.
Willis tacked on the Horns' final run the following inning when she roped a two-out homer down the left field line, pushing the Texas edge to 6-3.
Junior righthander Meagan Denny (6-1) fanned four Buckeyes in the fourth and fifth innings, but was lifted in the seventh inning after allowing back-to-back singles to start the frame. Denny earned the victory after scattering 10 hits and five runs in 6.0 innings of work.
Erin Tresselt came on in relief of Denny to pick up her second save of the season, avoiding a two-run Ohio State threat in the final frame. Tresselt allowed two runs, one of which was inherited, but retired the final two batters to end the rally and preserve the UT victory.
"Erin (Tresselt) is playing like a veteran right now," commented Clark. "She has been throwing some very valuable innings for our team and she came in today and did a great job of shutting the door on Ohio State."
Buckeyes' starter Kim Reeder (2-2) suffered the loss for OSU after throwing 2.2 innings and allowing five runs on six hits and walking two.
Johnson, Willis and Saenz headlined the Texas offense on the afternoon, recording two hits apiece, with Willis tallying a pair of RBI.
Texas concludes play at the Palm Springs Classic, Sunday, Feb. 25 at 1 p.m. (Central) when UT takes on No. 6 Oregon State. Live stats of the Longhorns' tournament finale will be available on TexasSports.com.