In the third and fourth games of the 2nd Boerner Invitational, the softball team (2-10) was able to split a doubleheader against Missouri State University and Wichita State University on Saturday at Allan Saxe Field.
Game 1: UTA 3, Missouri State 2
The beginning of the game showed signs of how defensive it would be, as freshman outfielder Reagan Hukill flashed the leather and threw a strike to second base to throw out a baserunner.
The UTA pitching staff was stingy throughout, especially senior pitcher JoJo Valencia. She finished her day throwing 4.2 innings, giving up just four hits and one run.
Both pitchers overwhelmed the opposing team's lineup. Through five innings, a solo homerun from Missouri State University was the only action the scoreboard saw.
UTA’s offense started to pick up in the sixth inning. The Mavericks tied the game at 1-all with a screeching single from sophomore pitcher Kenedy Hines that banged off the wall and scored freshman outfielder Dariane Cram.
Freshman infielder Jessica Carreon added to that and gave the Mavericks a lead, hitting a rocket in between the Bears’ shortstop and the third baseman, scoring Hines.
With a runner in scoring position, two outs and trailing 2-1, Bears sophomore catcher Tess Weakly drove in the game-tying run while advancing to second base on an error by UTA.
The Mavericks looked primed to make something happen in the bottom of the seventh inning, with senior infielder Aileen Garcia leading off the inning and getting on base. Ultimately, the UTA offense couldn’t convert, ending the seventh inning with three straight outs.
After a scoreless eighth inning, both teams would have high drama in the ninth inning with opportunities to lead. UTA and Missouri State had a runner on third with one out, but the pitching would step up to get their teams out the inning.
On a base hit single from Missouri State, Hukill had the runner caught in a pickle between third and home to keep the game tied in the 10th.
“When you see such a young outfield doing plays like that, it just makes you feel really good inside as a coach,” head coach Peejay Brun said.
After 10 innings, a flyball out from Hines scored junior catcher Sophie Wideman, giving UTA its second victory of the season.
Offensively, Hines led the way by going 2-4 at the plate and bringing in two of the team’s three runs. Prior to that game, Hines' only plate appearances on the season came Friday against Iowa State University, where she went 1-3.
The pair of Valencia and junior pitcher Allie Gardiner in the circle combined for 9.2 innings, only allowing two runs off seven hits. The pair faced a combined 39 batters in game one.
“I thought JoJo did a great job again today,” Brun said. “She’s really been proving why, you know, she is the captain in that bullpen right now.”
Game 2: Wichita State 6, UTA 3
After going 10 innings in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader, the Mavericks started the second game slowly on offense, mustering one hit through four innings.
Although the UTA offense may not have been converting, the pitching held up for the first two innings, holding the Shockers scoreless.
It was in the third inning that the game went sideways for the Mavericks, with Wichita State putting four runs on the board off four hits and ending Hines’ night.
The Shockers offense didn’t show any signs of slowing down, bringing their lead up to 6-0 off a two-run home run by junior outfielder Wylie Glover.
Hukill got things going for the Mavericks after hitting her third home run of the season. This time it was a solo home run to center field, bringing the score to 6-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning.
After a scoreless top of the sixth, the Mavericks carved into the deficit with a two-run homerun from senior infielder KJ Murphy on top of the hill in the left field. The blast would make it a 6-3 game in the bottom of the sixth.
UTA held Wichita State to no runs in the top of the seventh inning. Entering the final inning of the game with a chance to tie it, Hukill started the bottom of the seventh with a single to center field.
That would be the last piece of offense for the Mavericks, following the base hit up with three straight outs to end the game.
Hines was charged with the loss in the second game after giving up four runs off three hits in 2.1 innings pitched. With the loss, she is now 0-5 on the season.
Brun said she is looking forward to hitting becoming more consistent, trusting the process and learning from mistakes early in the season.
The softball team will take the field again at 2 p.m. Sunday against the University of North Texas to finish off the 2nd Boerner Invitational at Allan Saxe Field.