Softball starts season with sweep of Wichita State, North Texas

Texas outfielder Shannon Rhodes had a double and a home run in the Longhorns' 5-1 win over North Texas (photo courtesy of

CONROE, Texas — The No. 7 Texas softball team hit .412 with 11 extra-base hits and didn’t allow an earned run as the Longhorns kicked off their 2021 season by sweeping games Sunday against Wichita State and North Texas in the Scrap Yard Blizzard Challenge at the Scrap Yard Complex Iron Field in Conroe. The Longhorns (2-0) pounded WSU, 8-0, in a game that was called after five innings before knocking off North Texas, 5-1.

The victory in the opener improved the Longhorns’ all-time record in season openers to 25-0, and was the second in as many years against the Shockers.

Sophomore pitcher Shea O’Leary was dominant in the opener, allowing just a single hit, walking three and striking out four in the five-inning shutout.

Catcher Colleen Sullivan drove in the only runs the Longhorns would need in the bottom of the first with a double — her first of three over the two games — plated second baseman Janae Jefferson and first baseman Lauren Burke to give UT a 2-0 lead after the first inning.

In the second, freshman shortstop Alyssa Washington doubled to right-center and scored on a triple by Jefferson. Third baseman Mary Iakopo walked and then scored ahead of Jefferson on Burke’s three-run home run to make it 6-0.

Texas added its last two runs in the third. Rhodes scored from third on an RBI single by left fielder Kaitlyn Washington, and pinch runner Alyssa Popelka raced home on a sacrifice fly by right fielder Courtney Day.

Center fielder Shannon Rhodes led the UT offense against UNT, going 2-for-4 with a home run and a double, and Molly Jacobsen came on in relief to pick up her first win as a Longhorn after transferring from Ole Miss.

The Longhorns grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Burke tripled to right and scored on a Sullivan double. Kaitlyn Washington doubled the Texas lead and scored what proved to be the eventual game-winning run when she scored in the second on an RBI double by catcher Taylor Ellsworth.

UNT center fielder Tuesday DerMargosian scored the only run of the day against her former team when she took third base on a wild pitch and came home on a sacrifice fly by left fielder Molly Rainey to cut the UT lead to 2-1, but Rhodes pushed the margin back to two runs when she led off the fourth with a solo home run.

In her first collegiate action in the circle, White allowed the first two UNT batters of the game to reach on singles, but quickly fought her way out of trouble in the first on consecutive fly outs and a swinging K.

Texas starter Ryleigh White scattered four hits, walked one, struck out four and allowed the game’s only run over 3-1/3 innings before giving way to Jacobsen, who surrendered two hits over 3-2/3 scoreless innings.

Texas hosts its first two games of the season Friday at Red & Charlene McCombs Field, facing Sam Houston State at 1 p.m. and Lamar at 3:30.

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