Texas Softball crushes Texas Tech to win Big 12 series
AUSTIN, Texas – Freshman designated player Bekah Alcozer made the most of her first career start, on Sunday afternoon at Red & Charline McCombs Field, by going 2-for-3 with a triple and a career-best four RBIs to help power Texas softball (27-10, 2-3 Big 12 Conference) to an 8-4 victory and a series win over Texas Tech (19-21, 4-2 Big 12 Conference).
Freshman left fielder Reagan Hathaway added a 1-for-2 effort with a walk, two runs scored and a pair of RBIs and senior second baseman Stephanie Ceo was 1-for-2 with a double and a RBI. Both senior right fielder Holly Kern (1-for-4) and junior shortstop Devon Tunning (1-for-3) each plated two runs in the triumph.
In the circle, junior left hander Tiarra Davis improved to 16-8 on the year after allowing one earned run on four hits with three walks and three strikeouts over 5.0 innings of work. Sophomore Kristen Clark picked up her first save of the campaign with 1.1 frames of hitless relief to go along with one walk and one K, while sophomore Paige von Sprecken permitted one earned tally on a single hit with two walks and two strikeouts over two-thirds of an inning.
Texas Tech struck first in the top of the opening frame as right fielder Kierra Miles blasted a two-out solo HR over the fence in left to grant the Red Raiders a quick 1-0 advantage.
Looking to respond immediately, Texas got a lead-off Lindsey Stephens walk and a stolen base to christen the bottom of the first. Within 60 feet of pay dirt after a Davis groundout to the right side of the infield, junior third baseman Celina Felix hit a sharp liner back to the circle. TTU pitcher Dominique Alcocer managed to knock the ball down before it was corralled by second baseman Kirsten Schwirtlich. On the fielder's choice play, a throw to third attempting to get Stephens straying off the bag proved late. Kern followed with a sharp bouncer to short that was misplayed for an error allowing the tying run to cross to make it 1-1. With two down in the frame and the bases loaded after a Hathaway walk, Texas blew things open. Alcozer drilled a two-RBI single up the middle and Ceo soon followed with a RBI double into the right field corner to boost the UT advantage to 4-1.
The Red Raiders managed single base runners during both the second and third frames on a lead-off walk and a one-out single, respectively, but Davis kept TTU from stringing together any real threat.
A lead-off double down the left field line by first baseman Brittany Warnecke got a serious Tech threat going starting the top of the fourth. With the runner within 60 feet of scoring after a bouncer to second, Schwirtlich and catcher Susan Welborn each got struck by pitches to load the bases with two retired. Shortstop Brooke Scott stepped to the dish facing a huge opportunity and lined softly to Tunning at short to leave the trio stranded.
The Texas advantage shrank during the top of the fifth after a two-out walk, an error and a two-RBI double off the bat of designated player Jessica Hartwell combined to cut the TTU deficit to just 4-3.
The Horns mounted a huge response with one out in the bottom of the fifth as Felix walked, Kern hustled down the line to beat out an infield single to deep short and Tunning avoided a tag on a bouncer to first for a hit to load the bases. That set the stage for some Hathaway heroics as the freshman blasted a two-RBI single off the wall in right to push Texas' advantage out to a more comfortable 6-3. UT soon blew the game wide open again as Alcozer blasted a ball through the infield and up the right center field gap to the wall for a two-RBI triple as the lead expanded to 8-3. The advantage could have been even more but a Texas runner was thrown out at the plate while trying to score on a sacrifice fly to end the outburst.
Tech began trying to chip away at the deficit during the sixth against new hurler von Sprecken as Welborn drove a one-out solo shot to left to pull the Red Raiders back within four scores. An error and a two-out walk put more two aboard with TTU's leading RBI producer Miles coming to the plate. She drew a free pass to load the bases as Clark was summoned into the contest in relief. The bullpen decision paid dividends as clean-up hitter Warnecke bounced out to first to strand three more.
Needing a big rally in the top of the seventh to get back in the contest, Tech got a one-out walk but nothing else as Clark finished off her first save of the season on a looking K of Welborn.
Texas Head Coach Connie Clark
On the first Big 12 series win of the season: Outstanding. I thought that we did a really nice job of staying persistent, just staying on the attack and making adjustments throughout the weekend. It took the entire roster to get it done, and I am really proud of our club.
On the girls keeping it together through the ups and downs of the game: I thought that we did have a good mentality, and that's what it is about, to get to the next pitch. I think that we were making some mistakes on being over aggressive, maybe. You would rather have it that way as opposed to being on our heels. I thought that we stayed on the attack. We were aggressive, persistent and really played pitch-to-pitch. I am really proud of them.
On the performance of Bekah Alcozer: We were excited to be able to get her a start. She has had some really quality looks in her pinch-hit opportunities up to this point. She had another great pinch-hit opportunity and a walk in this series. She has been someone who has been very consistent at practices over the last couple of weeks. We felt like it was a good opportunity. You are trying to build those freshmen up and make sure they are ready for an environment like this. It was really nice to see her get the outcomes. She had a great day for us.
Freshman Designated Player Bekah Alcozer
On the performance today: I was seeing the ball really well today. I felt really good in practice the past couple weeks. I just did what I did in practice today out on the field.
On the feeling of helping get that Big 12 series win for your team: It feels really good. I don't really know how to describe it. I didn't really put it together like that until just then.
On the momentum going into next weekend: It is really good. Oklahoma, we are going to have to use more people and use everyone on the team. Knowing that we have to do that, and that we can trust everybody, it is going to give us really big momentum going into the weekend.