AUSTIN, Texas – Home runs from sophomore catcher Taylor Ellsworth and senior designated player Paige von Sprecken backed strong pitching from junior Brooke Bolinger and redshirt junior Erica Wright as Texas softball (23-14) completed a three-game sweep of Samford (12-29) on Sunday afternoon at Red & Charline McCombs Field, 4-0.
Bolinger (9-5) picked up the victory in the circle for the Longhorns softball team, taking a no-hit bid into the fifth before settling for five innings of one-hit effort with two walks and nine strikeouts. Wright permitted two hits and struck out three over two frames of scoreless relief.
At the plate, Ellsworth helped lead the charge by going 2-for-3 with her team-leading fourth HR of the season and two RBIs, while von Sprecken was 2-for-3 with her third HR of the campaign and a RBI.
An illegal pitch call against Samford came back to hurt the Bulldogs in a major way during the bottom of the first. With two down and MK Tedder at the plate, it appeared pitcher Annalyn Yantis had retired the Longhorns in order as UT's freshman third baseman lined out sharply to center. The first base umpire ruled an illegal pitch was thrown, and that brought Tedder back to the plate where she promptly drew a two-out walk. That set the stage for the long ball as Ellsworth stepped into the box and blasted a two-run HR to left for a quick 2-0 lead. Junior right fielder Bekah Alcozer followed with her own free pass and came around to score on a Kaitlyn Washington RBI single and a Samford infield miscue as the advantage expanded to 3-0.
Meanwhile, in the circle for the Burnt Orange & White, Bolinger was dealing by setting down the first nine Bulldogs of the game with six strikeouts.
The Longhorns used more power to improve its lead to 4-0 in the bottom of the third as von Sprecken opened the frame with a solo HR to left.
After retiring the first 10 she faced, Bolinger finally allowed Samford a base runner to end a perfect game bid with one down in the top of the fourth as right fielder Ryan Brzozoski walked. That was all the Bulldogs could get, however, as the junior lefthander induced a line-out to short before posting her eighth strikeout to end the frame.
With a runner already on via walk, Samford broke up the potential no-hit bid with two out in the top of the fifth as first baseman Lexie Higgins drove a single the other way to right. Pinch hitter Lauren Lewis came to the plate facing a big opportunity to get the Bulldogs back in the game, but lined out to Janae Jefferson behind the second base bag to leave two stranded.
The Bulldogs got another threat going starting the sixth as a Shelby Maze single and a UT error put two on with no one retired. In the circle for her first inning of relief, Wright managed to escape a huge jam by striking out designated player Hannah Trombley before getting the next two on a fielder's choice and a pop-up.
Facing one last chance to get back in the contest during the seventh, Samford got a two-out base runner on a Higgins single to left, but that was it as Wright closed out the Texas Softball win with her third K.