Marcus Connolly, The Paisano
Hosting the 2015 UTSA Classic, the Roadrunner softball team (12-4, 0-0) dominated its home tournament, winning four out of five games this weekend. Although UTSA dropped their first game on Friday night to Iowa State (9-2. 0-0), the Roadrunners swept the next two days of the tournament, besting Incarnate Word (1-12, 0-0) and Southeastern Louisiana (4-7, 0-0) in Saturday and Sunday doubleheaders.
The Roadrunners got off to a strong start against the Iowa State Cyclones on Friday, establishing a 7-1 lead after two innings, but Iowa State scored 11 unanswered runs to take the game. Senior first baseman Megan Low and freshman center fielder Kendall Burton each drove in three runs and homered for the Roadrunners, but the Cyclones’ left fielder Kelsey McFarland hammered a grand slam that sparked an Iowa State rally in the fourth and fifth innings, in which they scored nine runs. The Roadrunners attempted to mount a comeback, scoring two runs in the seventh inning thanks to a single from senior shortstop Courtney Buchman, but the game ended with a fly out to left field from Low.
On Saturday, the Roadrunners crushed the Incarnate Word Cardinals in a 13-1 five inning run-rule win. The Roadrunners started the game with an eight-run first inning in which Buchman hammered a two-run homerun past the left field fence, junior catcher Tess Soefje and sophomore designated player Randee Crawford both hit RBI singles, and Burton pounded a three-run homer far into the right field trees. Sophomore starting pitcher Nicole Merrill shut down the Cardinal offense, pitching a dominating one hitter in which catcher Christy Trevino plated UIW’s only run in a second inning fielder’s choice RBI single.
To finish the doubleheader, UTSA beat the Southeastern Louisiana Lions 2-1, on the strength of a two run homer from Low and a career-high 11-strikeout performance from starting pitcher Kacy Freeze. Freeze’s pitching was one of the weekend’s many highlights for the Roadrunners, as she didn’t allow a hit after the third inning. The junior pitcher retired the last ten opposing batters and struck out the side in the 7th inning to end the game.
Freeze, commenting on her standout performance, said, “We just went with their weaknesses. We knew they weren’t hitting the dropball, so I just went with my best pitch.”
The Roadrunners also swept the Sunday doubleheader, besting Southeastern Louisiana in a 9-1 five inning run-rule win. The game was a 1-1 tie until Soefje’s dramatic third inning three-run homer tore the game open in favor of the Roadrunners. UTSA added three more runs in the fourth inning, and another two runs in the fifth thanks to important singles from junior left fielder Jade Smith to end the game early.
“We are consistently playing good offense right now. We are hitting the ball really well,” stated UTSA Head Coach Michelle Cheatham after the game.
In the second half of the doubleheader the Roadrunners pulled off a dramatic 7-6 extra-inning victory against Incarnate Word. UTSA started strong with the help of a Randee Crawford three-run homer in the first inning and plated runs in the second, third, and fourth innings before UIW rallied with a six-run fifth inning on the power of a three-run homer from second baseman Natalie Duron. In the eighth inning, the Roadrunners clinched the game thanks to a sacrifice fly from senior third baseman Vivian Tijerina, which scored Kendall Burton.
“We lost focus, but we just kept the pressure on and got the win,” stated Burton.
Freshman right-hander Lizzy Fox pitched a scoreless 3.1 innings in her first start for the Roadrunners, while Merrill earned her second win of the day in relief, allowing only one hit in her three innings on the mound.
“My kids are fighting kids. They never count themselves out of any ball game, no matter what happens. They battle back and always come out on top,” explained Cheatham.
Thanks to their four wins this weekend, the Roadrunners are now 12-4 and off to their strongest start as a team since the 1995 squad, which had a 12-3-1 record in its first 16 games. Cheatham expressed her pride in the team’s superb performance this weekend, stating, “We have a really fighting team who knows they’re always in the game. I love this team because they’ll never give up going after the win no matter the score or situation.”
The Roadrunners will host Houston Baptist on Wednesday, Feb. 25 at 6:00 p.m.