With the Texas men's golf team being knocked out in the national quarterfinals over the weekend, the softball Lady Longhorns were the
only penultimate squad still competing in the burnt orange for the (largely forgettable) 2012-13 school year. Despite a valiant effort in OKC, their season ended last night with a tough 2-1 loss to Bizarro UT that, like most one-run losses, was full of "what-ifs" and "coulda-beens."
First, it must be noted that Texas pitcher Blaire Luna was heroic on Sunday. She struck out 14 in the Horns' first game of the day, in which they eliminated Florida. For those counting at home, in a seven-inning game that's two thirds of the total outs. She then threw 147 pitches in the nightcap against the Lady Vols, holding them to three hits and two runs in a complete game effort. Tennessee hit a homerun in the first, and the score remained 1-0 until the sixth. This despite the fact that Texas got at least one runner on base in five of the first six innings, including a two on and none out situation in the bottom of the sixth. They just couldn't come up with a clutch hit to break through.
Meanwhile, Luna lost control on the top of the sixth. After walking the leadoff hitter, she got the next two batters on a strikeout and a flyout. But then the wheels came off: she hit the next hitter with a pitch and walked the next on four pitches, setting up a bases-loaded, two-out situation. Despite starting pinch hitter Lexi Overstreet with a 1-2 count, Luna then walked her as well to score the Vols' second, and ultimately winning, run. Lindsey Stephens led off the bottom of the seventh with a homerun for Texas, but the next three hitters went down in order to end the game. So, despite out-hitting Tennessee 5-3, the Longhorns were eliminated.
It's particularly tough to see Luna's career end this way. Although the sixth inning was certainly disastrous on her part, she held Tennessee to two runs on the night and gave her team a chance to win. The hitters just couldn't come up with the clutch hit, which happens sometimes. When you face elimination, the margin for error is zero and Texas learned that the hard way. The Lady Longhorns represented the University well in Oklahoma City, finishing in the top four and
ending leaving only track and field left in a generally terrible school year for UT sports on a positive note.
The three-game championship series between Tennessee and Oklahoma begins tonight. We'll be pulling for the Sooners for three reasons: 1. It's hard to muster up much hatred for a softball team, even if they wear those awful colors. 2. Whatever tiny amount of joy a Sooner victory would bring to whatever portion of the state that's paying attention has to be hoped for in this tough time for the people of Oklahoma. 3. Big 12 pride, etc.
Thanks to the Lady Longhorns for an entertaining run. Hook 'em!