UTSA hosted the 2012 Southland Conference Softball Tournament. The Roadrunners’ squad featured seven players who all earned All-Conference honors. Among them, catcher Megan Low was named Southland Conference Freshman of the Year. Low is the fourth freshman in UTSA history to win that award.
“Megan has a deep understanding of the game. For her to maintain her maturity at a Division I level all season is really quite an accomplishment and very impressive,”Head Coach Amanda Lehotak.
On May 11, the fourth seeded Roadrunners faced off against the fifth seeded University of Central Arkansas Sugar Bears in the first round. The Runners’bats were alive early in the game; shortstop Molly Fichtner, catcher Low and first basman Caitlyn Ivy all successfully reached base with singles to load up the bases.
Third baseman Nikki Goff was patient at the plate and earned a walk off Central Arkansas’pitcher Kelsie Armstrong, to bring in the first score for the Runners. Unfortunately, the scoring ended there as UTSA left three base runners stranded in the first inning.
The Runners scored again in the bottom half of the third when Ivy hit a towering two-run homer over the right field wall that increased the UTSA lead to 3-0. The Bears ended the three inning shutout for San Antonio pitcher Haylee Staton when second basemen Tiffany Roby hit Staton’s pitch over the centerfield fence for a two-run homerun. The score was now 3-2.
The Runners weren’t rattled by the new offense momentum of Central Arkansas, as designated player Alaina Byars added to UTSA’s lead with her own solo home run that quickly sailed out of the ballpark. The Runners got more breathing room with that score and a 4-2 lead.
The Bears scored again in their next at bat in the top of the fifth with a sacrifice fly out by UCA’s Katie McGregor, making the score 4-3 in favor of UTSA. The Bears couldn’t overcome the lead as UTSA’s Staton pitched all seven innings for the first round victory.
The Runners had only a few hours of rest before their next match up with I-35 rival and top seeded Texas State. The Runners and Bobcats continued to play through some steady showers to start the game, and because of their higher seed in the tournament Texas State would be the acting home team.
The rival squads stayed sharp on defense, as both teams went scoreless in the early innings. Both teams wanted to advance in the tournament at the expense of their rival, which added to the playoff intensity. The “visiting team”Roadrunners struck first in the top of the third inning as Fichtner hit an RBI double off the centerfield wall that was close to being a homerun for the hometown Runners. The Runners had a 1-0 lead over the top seed Bobcats.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Texas State’s offense gained more momentum when pinch hitter Allison Snow hustled down the first base line for an infield single, and centerfielder Jordan Masek laid down a fantastic drag bunt down the first base line. Shortstop Selena Hernandez hammered a two-run double over UTSA’s centerfielder Ashley Kappler’s head, giving the Bobcats a 2-1 lead.
Texas State would hold onto their one-run lead for the remainder of the game, and give UTSA their first defeat of the tournament.
The Conference tournament is a double elimination format, so the Runners had one more chance to reach the final. UTSA played the next day against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on May 12.
UTSA’s matchup with the sixth- seeded Islanders from Corpus Christi was one of the most exciting games of the tournament. Corpus Christi reached the final of the 2011 Southland Conference tournament but lost to the eventual champion Texas State Bobcats. The Roadrunners would take the visiting team role as the Islanders would be the acting home team for this game.
The Roadrunners offense picked up in the top of the third inning when left fielder Laura Little started off the inning with a lead-off single that quickly rolled past the Islanders’second basemen. Freshman of the Year Low then capitalized on the scoring chance and hit a clutch RBI double that allowed Little to beat a very close tag play at the plate, giving the Runners a 1-0 lead.
That would be the only successful offensive inning for the Runners. They held onto that 1-0 lead going into the bottom of the seventh inning. The Islanders had three outs to somehow find a way to advance in the tournament.
With two outs in the inning, Islanders’Cassie Redman reached first base due to a dropped fly ball by diving UTSA center fielder Courtney Buchman. That sign of life from the Islanders sent their fans into frenzy. The offensive momentum continued for A&M-Corpus Christi when left fielder Hannah Schwarz struck a line drive into left field for a single.
First basemen Meagan McKinney kept the rally alive by beating an infield grounder to short to load the bases. In the next at bat, catcher Laura Philips was hit by a pitch, to score the trying run of the game.
Designated Jamise Jackson hit a looping fly ball right behind the pitching circle, and that just died right when it struck the ground. Jackson hustled down the first base line and dived in safely for a winning RBI single. The number six seed Islanders successfully pulled off the upset and eliminated the number four seeded Roadrunners.
“There is nothing in that seventh inning that I would have our kids do differently. They were relaxed; they were confident. Corpus Christi found a way to score and it’s part of the game,”Head Coach Lehotak said.
Head Coach Lehotak ends her first season at UTSA with an overall record of 24-28.