Texas Softball Drops Its Series Opener at Cal State Fullerton, 3-2

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TEXAS SOFTBALL

Texas softball drops its series opener at Cal State Fullerton, 3-2 (9 inn.)

Junior pitcher Paige von Sprecken struck out a career-high nine over eight innings of work in a no decision

FULLERTON, Calif. – On Friday night at Anderson Family Field, Cal State Fullerton (14-13) rallied for a single run during the bottom of the seventh to force extra innings before prevailing in the opener of a three-game series against Texas softball (14-11), 3-2 (9 inn.).

In the circle for the Longhorns, junior Paige von Sprecken started and struck out a career-high nine batters in a no
decision, allowing one earned run on six hits with four walks over eight innings of work. Sophomore left-hander Brook Bolinger (4-2) was dealt a tough loss in relief, permitting one unearned run on two hits over one-third of a frame.

Freshman third baseman Kaitlyn Slack led the Texas offense by going 2-for-4 with a run scored, her second career triple and a RBI, while fellow rookie right fielder Tuesday DerMargosian went 1-for-4 with a RBI. Senior shortstop Devon Tunning managed her team-leading seventh double as part of a 1-for-4 effort.

After Texas left a runner stranded in scoring position during each of the opening two frames, Cal State Fullerton
missed cashing in on a huge scoring opportunity of its own in the bottom of the second. With first baseman Mikaela
Francis on via a lead-off single past third, a sacrifice bunt, an infield hit by second baseman Sydney Colezzo and a walk to third baseman Emily Randall loaded the bases full of Titans with two outs. From the circle, von Sprecken danced her way out danger by catching center fielder Ariana Williams swinging at a rise ball to leave the bags packed.

Having missed numerous offensive chances already, the Longhorns finally broke the scoreless deadlock in the fourth.

With freshman catcher Taylor Ellsworth (1-for-2, run, two walks) at first on a one-out free pass, Slack stepped into the box with two retired and launched a 2-2 pitch to the wall in right center for a RBI triple. DerMargosian kept things going by lacing a RBI single the other way through the left side of the infield, plating Slack to stake the Burnt Orange & White to a 2-0 lead.

The Titans wasted no time cutting their deficit in half as shortstop Shianne Brannan christened the bottom of the fourth with a solo HR down the left field line.

Bidding for more on the scoreboard, Tunning got Texas off to a promising start in the fifth by driving the first pitch from CSF starter Kelsey Kessler into the left field corner for a double. Unfortunately, the Horns couldn’t add to their advantage as the next three hitters went down in order to keep the contest a one-run affair.

With Texas having missed another big chance for insurance by leaving occupants at second and third in the top of the sixth, the Titans got their leadoff on during the bottom half via a Francis single. The CSF runner eventually moved up to second but no further as senior first baseman Kelli Hanzel handled a bouncer to first and Slack tracked down an inning-ending pop-up in foul ground outside of third.

Down to one last chance to extend or win the contest in the seventh, Cal State Fullerton got a crucial one-out walk from Williams. The Titan speedster soon took off and successfully swiped second before moving within 60 feet of tying the score on a throwing error. Following a failed fielder’s choice and a walk that loaded the bases, a free pass to designated player Alexis Gonzalez forced in the tying run to make it 2-2. Facing another tough situation from the circle, von Sprecken crept closer to escaping the jam with a strikeout of first baseman Arianna Burns. Brannan stepped to the dish in a huge spot for the Titans and battled to a full count with two outs. She went down swinging, however, as Cal State Fullerton left the bases loaded again to send the game to extras.

Neither team would threaten until the bottom of the ninth as CSF managed consecutive infield hits to open the frame.

Titan left fielder Samantha Vandiver hit a liner to shallow left that senior Stephanie Wong appeared to lose in the lights while trying to slide to make the catch. The Austin, Texas, native recovered quickly, though, picking up the loose ball and firing a strike to third to retire the lead runner for the initial out. That only briefly delayed the end, however, as CSF’s Gonzalez followed with a bouncer towards second that was misplayed for an error allowing Williams to scamper home for a 3-2 victory.

Source- Texas Athletics Media Relations

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