After Friday night’s furious comeback, Texas found itself playing for its season once again in a decisive Game 3 against Alabama.
This time, a rally and a win were not in the cards for the Longhorns. They lost 8-5 on Saturday, ending their postseason run.
Pitcher Brooke Bolinger got the start and it looked like the pressure got to her. She walked three batters early, loading the bases. But Bolinger was able to battle through and get out of the jam. With the game scoreless, Texas avoided trouble.
Defensive issues, however, came back and found Texas in the third inning.
Pitcher Shealyn O’Leary was the star of Friday’s game. Saturday was a different story. Once she relieved Bolinger of her duties in the circle, O’Leary got into some trouble of her own. Center fielder Reagan Hathaway uncharacteristically dropped a pop-fly at the wall and allowed the inning to continue. Alabama’s bats came alive and instantly took advantage of the mistake.
O’Leary surrendered a three-run homer to KB Sides, breaking the game open. Immediately after, Bailey Hemphill sent another ball outside the park for her 25th homer of the season, tying an Alabama single-season record by an individual.
Along with O’Leary’s struggles on the mound, the Longhorns weren’t able to drive in runs and close the gap.
“We gotta make her work a little bit,” Texas head coach Mike White said. “Make her work. Get the ball in the zone. When she’s in the zone, she’s hittable.”
After another scoreless inning for Texas went by, third baseman Shannon Rhodes had seen enough. With the bases loaded and Texas finally gaining momentum, Rhodes sent a pitch far past the wall in deep center to cut Alabama’s lead to two.
“I was just sticking to a plan,” Rhodes said. “Montana Fouts is a great pitcher and she did a great job this weekend. She gave me something a little bit off the plate, but I jumped across and hit it.”
Unfortunately for Texas, that was the last run of the day. The next two innings were filled with “BAMA” chants and only one by the Longhorns. Right fielder MK Tedder had a chance to be the hero and tie the game with two runners on in the seventh, but popped up for the final out.
Texas came into the game down a starting pitcher after the scary moment Friday night when Miranda Elish was hit in the face with a ball. Even without playing, the junior pitcher still impacted her team.
“Today was for Miranda,” Rhodes said. “Yesterday was for Miranda. She’s given us a great fight. She deserved it all and it helps a lot when she has a team behind her to help.”
Elish was able to rejoin the team and sit in the dugout. She will be re-evaluated when the team returns to Austin with the season now drawing to a close.