Texas Softball Sweeps its Big 12 Series at Oklahoma State, 7-2
STILLWATER, Okla. – Make it a program-best 13 victories on the road for Texas softball (35-14, 10-5 Big 12) this season as the Longhorns completed a league sweep of Oklahoma State (21-31, 3-13 Big 12) on Sunday afternoon at Cowgirl Stadium, 7-2.
Sophomore shortstop Devon Tunning powered a 13-hit offensive attack by going 3-for-4 with a run scored, her sixth HR of the season and two RBI, while senior right fielder Marlee Gabaldon was 3-for-4 with a tally and a RBI. Junior designated player Holly Kern was 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI, sophomore first baseman Kelli Hanzel doubled as part of a 1-for-3, two-run effort and junior catcher Erin Shireman was 1-for-2 with a RBI.
Freshman Erica Wright again dominated from the circle in improving to 16-6 overall, working four one-hit innings with a pair of walks and five strikeouts. Senior reliever Gabby Smith walked one, struck out two and allowed a single run on one hit over a single frame, while sophomore reliever Lauren Slatten permitted a run on three hits with two K's over 2.0 innings of work.
After OSU left a runner stranded in scoring position during the bottom of the first, Texas' offense roared to life by plating five runs in the top of the second. Freshman third baseman Randel Leahy got things going with a bloop single to center field and advanced to second on a perfect Shireman sacrifice bunt. Hanzel was struck by a Brandi Needham offering to place a pair aboard with only one retired. Gabaldon stepped to the dish and ripped a clean single through the left side. Oklahoma State's Maddi Holcomb charged the ball but had it escape under her glove and roll to the warning track for an error as two runs crossed the plate. Kern followed immediately with a RBI single to left center as the lead expanded to 3-0. Unfortunately for the Longhorns, she was cut down attempting to stretch her hit into extra bases. With two down, junior second baseman Stephanie Ceo dropped a perfect bunt single out in front of the plate. That set the stage for the biggest blow of the inning as Tunning registered her sixth HR of the season on a two-run shot down the left field line.
With Wright cruising in the circle to the tune of no hits and three strikeouts over the initial two frames, UT added to its advantage in the top of the third. Stephens christened the outburst with a single through the left side of the infield. Leahy followed by hitting a ball to short that was thrown away while attempting to get the force at second as the runners set up shop at the corners with no one retired. Shireman blasted a long drive to left that appeared to be heading out, but Holcomb made a leaping catch to prevent a three-run HR. Stephens crossed easily from 60 feet away on the lengthy sacrifice fly as the Texas lead grew to 6-0.
The Cowgirls managed their first hit of the contest during the bottom of the third as center fielder Shelby Davis laced a two-out double to left center. Wright refused to let OSU's offense string anything together, however, by inducing a bouncer that Hanzel handled routinely at first for the final out.
Stephens flashed the leather to keep the Cowgirls in check in the bottom of the fourth. With designated player Michaela Patton at first following a walk and a fielder's choice, first baseman Danielle Riddle blooped a troublesome ball into right center. UT's center fielder raced over from her defensive position to make a terrific diving catch and conclude the inning.
A lead-off walk issued to catcher Miranda Cavin by Smith came back to bite the Horns in the fifth as OSU cut its deficit to 6-1. With two retired on consecutive Cowgirl strikeouts, Davis delivered a RBI single through the left side, plating Cavin for OSU's first run of the entire series.
The Longhorns advantage shrank further to 6-2 starting the bottom of the sixth as third baseman Tiffany Mikkelson led off the frame with a solo HR to left off Slatten. Singles from Shippy and Riddle applied more Cowgirl offensive pressure, while a Texas error and obstruction call loaded the bases to bring the tying run to the plate in the form of pinch hitter Darcy Taylor. Slatten successfully escaped the jam by catching Taylor swinging at a big strike three.
A Leahy lead-off walk opened the door for the Longhorns to add an insurance run in the top of the seventh as UT nabbed a 7-2 lead. With two outs after fielder's choices cut down the lead runner at second, consecutive singles from Gabaldon and Kern scored Hanzel from second.
From there, Slatten worked through a quick one-two-three bottom of the seventh to seal the series sweep over Oklahoma State.