Denny fires third career no-hitter in Softball's 1-0 victory over Iowa State
AUSTIN, Texas -- Junior righthander Meagan Denny fired her third career-no hitter, striking out 11 while allowing one walk, to lead the No. 18 University of Texas to a 1-0 Big 12 Conference softball victory over Iowa State Saturday afternoon in front of 1,055 at Red & Charline McCombs Field.
Texas got its lone run from the bat of senior first baseman Jacqueline Williams, who blasted her sixth home run of the year. Williams belted a 230-foot solo home run to straightaway center field to lead off the third inning. It was Williams' second homer in the last three games, following a grand slam on April 26 against Texas Tech.
Denny (Crowley, Texas/Crowley HS), now 20-13, helped UT to its third win in a row-- all conference victories. The Longhorns are 32-16 overall and 7-9 in the Big 12. Iowa State (22-38, 1-14 in Big 12) drops its eighth consecutive game.
Texas had five hits in the contest, with senior catcher Megan Willis (Chandler, Ariz./Corona del Sol HS) going 2-for-3 at the plate to lead the offense.
It was Denny's first no-hitter since she hurled two in her 2005 freshman season. Against the Cyclones, the 5-10 righty struck out eight of the first 13 batter she faced. She threw 93 total pitches, with 63 of them for strikes.
"What's most important for us right now is finding ways to win," noted Denny after the no-hitter. "Our mindset with this final home series of the regular season has been to take care of business each game, and so far, we have won our first three games in the homestand. I think we are chipping away, and that the team is in a good place right now."
"Today, the rise ball was my bread and butter pitch," Denny continued. "I just kept thinking, `Do what you can and trust your pitches.' Megan (Willis) was great behind the plate, and our defense was beautiful behind me today."
Denny allowed just three baserunners-- two in the top of the second inning and one in the seventh.
In the second inning, Cyclone leadoff hitter Katie Reichling reached on an infield fielding error and the next batter, Courtney Wray, reached on a fielder's choice. With runners on first and second, the two runners moved to second and third on a sacrifice bunt before Denny got Ashley Killeen to strike out swinging before Wray was picked off second base by catcher Megan Willis' throw to end the threat and the inning.
In the top of the seventh, with UT protecting its 1-0 lead, Denny struck out the leadoff batter before yielding her first walk of the game to designated player Alex Johnson, who then gave way to pinch runner Kristy Olsen. Reichling then ripped a line drive shot back to the pitching circle, which Denny grabbed in front of her face before turning to double Olsen off the first base bag to end the game.
"Ironically, I actually have been dreaming about having a hit ball come directly back to me at face level," Denny said after the game. "And, in that dream, I always catch the ball, and that's what happened today in the seventh. Even though there was the potential tying run on base with that walk, I remained calm. Again, I was just thinking, stay pitch to pitch, and it worked out for us."
Taking the loss for the Cyclones was senior righthander Alyssa Ransom, now 10-17. Ransom struck out two and walked one in addition to giving up the five Longhorn hits.
Texas stranded four runners, while ISU left one on base.
The Longhorns now stand 18-5 at McCombs Field this year.
"My main concern today was making sure Denny was staying pitch-to-pitch out there, and she just grinded it out for us," noted Texas head coach Connie Clark. "We knew that Erin (Tresselt) was ready in the bullpen if needed, but Denny did the job and finished strong. Offensively, we've got to get the small ball game down, and we had chances with it today but just left runners on. Jackie Williams again came through at an opportune time. She has had timely hitting this week, and we hope she extends that good hitting into the postseason."
Texas will close out its regular season home schedule on Sunday, April 29 with a single noon contest against Iowa State. The game is "Texas Senior Day," as the Longhorns will honors seniors Williams and Willis and their families in pregame ceremonies at McCombs Field.