While the regular season has yet to begin, the fall slate has gotten off to a great start for the Longhorns, who won both exhibition contests on Wednesday evening.
Senior Paige von Sprecken started the first game against Blinn and pitched a solid two innings, allowing no runs with two strikeouts. Freshman Ariana Adams and redshirt junior Erica Wright finished out the first contest, which was won when sophomore Tuesday DerMargosian hit a walk-off RBI in the bottom of the seventh.
Junior Brooke Bolinger started the second game and threw three shutout innings before handing the ball to freshman Chloe Romero, who tossed two shutout innings of her own. Senior Kristen Clark finished the game and completed the shutout of the Hilltoppers by tossing two more perfect frames.
“These fall ball games are really important because we lost basically our infield,” von Sprecken said. “This is basically a whole new team for us, so it’s important for us to get comfortable together and be able to work out any kinks that we have so we are ready for spring.”
The offense found its rhythm in the second game of the doubleheader, scoring seven runs on 10 hits. The offensive charge was a welcome change from the largely stagnant bats in game one against the Buccaneers. Freshman MK Tedder hit the first home run of the season and the first of her career in the second game.
“On my first two at bats, I was really early, so I was trying to focus on timing,” Tedder said. “I told myself I was going to drive it up the middle, so I kind of just swung and it went over.”
Wednesday’s exhibitions provided an opportunity for freshmen and transfer players to get acclimated to the program.
“This freshman class came in really enthusiastically,” sophomore Kaitlyn Slack said. “They bring our team chemistry together and are not afraid to speak their minds. They are going to be leaders on our team.”
The game featured several different defensive lineups as well, as the exhibition format allowed for multiple defensive changes without a player having to be removed from the game. This allowed for an established veteran such as senior Randel Leahy to split time at catcher with sophomore Taylor Ellsworth.
“With so many positions open, it’s really going to take the whole team,” von Sprecken said. “I think a lot of the freshmen are going step in and fill some big shoes that we lost last year.”
After last season’s disappointing finish at the hands of Texas A&M, improvement in many facets of the game is important. The Longhorns showed signs of what’s to come Wednesday night.
“I think we have to focus on the little things,” Slack said. “Perfect those, and they will take you a long way in the end.”
The Longhorns next play is Friday in a road tilt with St. Mary’s University.