It’s rare for a midweek, nonconference game to have much significance to a team this late in the season, but Wednesday’s contest against Texas Southern certainly did.
The 6-0 Longhorn victory at Red and Charline McCombs Field marked win No. 800 for Connie Clark, who has been the head coach of the program since its inception in 1996.
“I feel really blessed to start the program and still be here 20 years later,” Clark said. “When you hit a milestone, it makes you stop and reflect on the people that have been part of this journey. It really takes a team.”
Freshman outfielder Reagan Hathaway got Texas on the board in the first with a bases-loaded, two-RBI double to right field. Texas Southern committed two errors in the inning, but the Longhorns couldn’t muster any more runs.
The Tigers put together a scoring threat in the third behind consecutive two-out singles and a fielding error from sophomore pitcher Paige von Sprecken but couldn’t plate the runners.
The missed opportunity proved to be costly in the bottom half of the frame as Texas extended its lead. Hathaway delivered her second RBI double, this time sending a shot to deep center field. With runners on the corners and one out, junior shortstop Devon Tunning drove in another run as the ball was thrown away following a fielder’s choice.
“I’m starting to feel really confident,” Hathaway said. “I was seeing the ball well and feeling calm and relaxed.”
Texas put up another two-spot in the fifth. Junior third baseman Celina Felix sent a RBI double to left, and senior outfielder Rachel Scott followed with a RBI double of her own to center. Von Sprecken came up next and hit a single through the left side, but Scott was thrown out at home to end the inning.
Von Sprecken improved to 10-3 on the season following her complete game, seven strikeout effort. She worked ahead of the count often and her changeup was in top form, two things the Longhorns needed to see from the young pitcher.
“We really wanted to get her in a groove with her off-speed because that’s such a big pitch for her,” Clark said. “We were using everything in her bag of tricks tonight, and it was fun to let her get some midweek work that’ll be great to take into the weekend.”
After the game, seniors Stephanie Ceo, Lindsey Stephens and Rachel Scott slammed pies in Clark’s face to celebrate the milestone.
“It’s special because she had a milestone my freshman year, so I started and finished with getting to pie her,” Ceo said. “She’s taught me a lot through these four years, and it’s a really great thing to be a part of.”