No. 6/6 Softball tops No. 24/24 Tulsa 1-0 with eighth-inning walk-off
Feb. 24, 2013
AUSTIN, Texas – Sophomore Gabby Smith’s single up the middle in the bottom of the eighth inning brought home freshman Stephanie Ceo and lifted No. 6/6 Texas Softball to a 1-0 walk-off victory over No. 24/24 Tulsa Sunday morning in the championship game of the Texas Invitational, presented by Time Warner Cable at Red & Charline McCombs Field.
The victory was the Longhorns’ 16th in 17 games and avenged UT’s only loss this season, a 7-4 setback to Tulsa Friday evening. The win also ties the 2012, 2006 and 2003 squads for the best 17-game start in program history.
Senior pitcher Blaire Luna went eight innings for the victory, recording a season-high 16 strikeouts, just one shy of her career best. She surrendered three hits and no walks.
Tulsa junior pitcher Aimee Creger also went the distance and took the loss. She struck out eight and yielded five hits and two walks.
After a first-inning, two-out single from Tulsa senior Samantha Cobb, Luna retired 13 consecutive batters, including 10 on strikeouts.
Texas threatened in the second, putting runners on the corners with one out. Junior Mandy Ogle doubled down the leftfield line and senior Torie Schmidt reached on an infield single, but Creger struck out Ceo and junior Karina Scott to retire the side.
In the top of the sixth, Tulsa managed its biggest scoring threat. Junior Shelby Blanton led off with a single and senior Caitlin Everett dropped a one-out bunt single to put runners on first and second. Luna struck out junior Jill Barrett and Cobb to end the threat.
In the bottom of the inning, the Longhorns put runners on the corners. After senior Taylor Hoagland’s second walk of the day, junior Taylor Thom beat out the throw from the second baseman for an infield single, sending Hoagland to third with senior Kim Bruins up to bat. But Creger forced Bruins into a groundout to the end the threat.
After both teams went out in order in the seventh, the international tie-breaker rules were used in the eighth, giving Tulsa a runner on second, junior Cierra Hughes, to start the inning. Hughes advanced to third on senior Cassidy Bowen’s sacrifice bunt but was stranded when Luna struck out junior Shelby Blanton and freshman Jodi Edmiston.
In the bottom of the eighth, Ceo was placed on second for UT and moved to third on Scott’s sacrifice bunt. With Tulsa’s infield pulled in for the potential play at the plate, Smith stroked a single up the middle to plate Ceo with the game winner.
The Longhorns’ next action comes Friday, March 1, at the Citrus Classic Tournament in Kissimmee, Fla. Texas opens the event at 10 a.m. CT Friday against Louisville.
On bouncing back after Tulsa won Friday: I think it’s good. When you have a layout like this, it’s comfortable seeing the same opponent again and making the adjustments you need to make because it’s getting you prepared for later on when you’re doing NCAA Regionals and NCAA Super Regionals. We call it playing chess, so you can figure what moves you’re going to make. It’s really a good experience for us early in the season.
On the weekend: I thought it was pretty solid. We keep getting done with these weekends and talking about the importance of the short game, and obviously we got it from Karina [Scott] in the international tie-breaker when it counted. We tried to put some bunts down early in the game, because their catcher is tremendous and they have a great defense, so we had to get out of our run game a little bit. We didn’t get some of the early bunts down, so that makes a difference. We’ve got to commit to being better with that, but Creger is a great pitcher and we had to see her more than just the one time through the lineup and get better looks.
On playing in a pitchers’ duel: I love it. We haven’t had too many of these kinds of games until this point. That’s important for us to continue to learn to just play and stay patient, because typically when you have a pitchers’ duel, you’re trying to find the smallest gap that you can make something happen and it becomes challenging when you have pitchers of that quality, but all you can do is stay the course and keep playing and getting to the next pitch and hope that good things happen. I thought we did that today and that’s a good experience for us.
Senior pitcher Blaire Luna
On pitching in a close contest: There were points when I was a little but nervous, but I just had to trust each pitch and trust my defense and know that eventually my offense would pull through like they did.
On playing in a pitchers’ duel: These are the fun games and these are the games that you play for. I’m really glad that we came out with a win, but I think Creger did a great job.
Junior shortstop Taylor Thom
On winning a close game: The five-game weekends have been a struggle and we’ve been able to grind through. I think we’re a mentally tough team. We have the confidence in ourselves. I think we can go really far.
On seeing Creger pitch Friday: Being able to see Creger on Friday gave us a game plan going into today. Obviously she’s a great pitcher and she has a great rise ball so we really tried to lay off that pitch and swing at our pitches.