Longhorns show grit at Mary Nutter Classic

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Photo Credit: Juan Figueroa | Daily Texan Staff

The Longhorns showed they could compete with the best at the Mary Nutter Classic this weekend. Texas went 4–2 in Palm Springs, including a 4-2 win over No. 13 Tennessee, its first top-15 victory since 2015. 

“We really got some good takeaways from these past games,” senior left fielder Stephanie Wong said. “We won some, but lost some. We’re really trying to learn from those losses the most and get a little feedback about our team from those losses.”

After a walk-off 4-3 win against Notre Dame on Thursday, the Longhorns dominated No. 20 Missouri, 10-3, and Bethune-Cookman, 9-1, Friday. 

Senior left-handed pitcher Tiarra Davis took home her first victory of the season over the Tigers, notching seven strikeouts and only allowing seven hits, six walks and one earned run. 

Sophomore right fielder Bekah Alcozer lead the way in the batter’s box, recording a career high of five RBI, including her first career grand slam. Alcozer continued her dominance at bat against Bethune-Cookman with two runs scored, four RBI and her third home run of the season to make her batting average .556 over the first three games. 

Saturday’s numbers went up as the Longhorns captured their first victory over a top-15 team in two years; Tennessee. 

Davis was at it again with four strikeouts, five hits and one earned run. She advanced her record to 2-2 at the circle for this season. 

The Longhorns scored most of their points in the first inning. Sophomore center fielder Reagan Hathaway lit the fire with her first homerun of the season. Freshman second baseman Jade Gortarez topped it off with a two-run double to give the Longhorns a 3-0 advantage. 

The Volunteers answered in the top of the fifth inning with two runs to reduce the deficit to 3-2. Tennessee grabbed two bases at the top of the sixth, but Gortarez caught a line drive up the middle and junior catcher Randel Leahy made an inning-end grab from behind the plate to close out the final threat. Senior defensive player Mickenzi Krpec finished it off with a home run bullet down left field in the bottom of the sixth inning. 

“We continued to work on their fundamentals,” head coach Connie Clark said. “Moving their feet on defense and coming up with the throws that need to be on the money. We talk a lot about that typically if it’s going to come down to winning or losing a ball game it’s going to be because of a crazy throw.”

Despite the number on offense, the Longhorns dropped their first game later in the day to No. 21Arizona State, 9–6. 

Texas struggled on the mound and resorted to three pitchers to finish the job. Junior right-hander Paige von Sprecken gained control of the game in the third inning, finishing it off with two hits, one earned run and three strikeouts. But the damage had already been done with five runs scored by the Sun Devils throughout the first three innings. 

The Longhorns concluded the tournament with a 7-2 loss to Washington on Sunday. 

Despite the losses, Longhorn batters fell into the spotlight, averaging .316 for 35 runs as a team during their six contests.  By scoring in all six games, Texas has tallied a run in each of its last 49 games dating back to 2016—the second-longest streak in school history since 2013.

In addition, the Longhorns showed depth. Fourteen different Texas batters had at least one hit throughout the weekend, while 10 Longhorns had at least one RBI. 

“Satisfied is relative, I don’t think we’re satisfied by any stretch of the imagination,” Clark said. “But I do like some of the growth things that we put together.”