The UTSA softball team is hitting their stride, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Winning 12 of the last 16 games, including eight Southland Conference (SLC) victories, the Roadrunners finish the regular season at Northwestern State before setting their sights on San Marcos and the SLC tournament, scheduled for May 13-15.
This past weekend at Roadrunner Field, UTSA won the regular-season series against Texas State– the first since splitting the series in 2005. Since 2006, the Bobcats have owned the I-35 rivalry, securing 11 wins out of 12 games. In the weekend series, UTSA held the second annual Strike Out Leukemia Day—in honor of former Roadrunner Hope Ortiz who passed away after an eight-month battle with leukemia—and senior day—recognizing Kelly Cato, Chelsey Chapman, Kristin Sitka, Rudi Cantu, Cassie Miller, Kim Gonzales and Celeste Carruth— in the final home game of the season.
UTSA 3, Texas State 1
Junior pitcher Emily Humpal took the mound for the Roadrunners on Friday’s opening game of the doubleheader. After drawing a four-pitch walk, sophomore Nikki Goff advanced to third base after a sacrifice bunt by Cato and a bunt single by Cantu. Goff eventually scored on a throwing error to give UTSA a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third.
The orange and blue struck again in the bottom of the sixth, after a pinch two-out single by sophomore Kristin Kappler scored Caitlyn Ivy and pinch-runner Samantha Beeson. The Bobcats plated one run in the top of the seventh, courtesy of two UTSA errors. Humpal finished the day throwing the complete game, with no earned runs and four strikeouts.
Texas State 6, UTSA 4
In the nightcap of Friday’s doubleheader, Texas State and UTSA carried a tie game all the way to the top of the tenth inning before the Bobcats unknotted on a two-run inning. After trailing 4-3 headed into the bottom of the seventh, UTSA pinch runner Beeson—running for Ivy who doubled —scored on a Holmes single up the middle. The game stayed 4-4 until the Bobcats plated two runs on two hits in the front half of the tenth inning. Bobcat pitcher Chandler Hall earned her fifteenth win of the season in what would be Texas State’s only success of the weekend.
UTSA 7, Texas State 1
Humpal continued her stellar performance against the Bobcats, flirting with a no-hitter all the way until the top of the seventh. The Roadrunners wasted no time getting on the board, plating four runs in their first at bat. Ivy began the inning by drawing a two-out walk and advancing to third on a bloop single by Holmes. Kristin Kappler drove Ivy in on a single to left, but Humpal did the majority of the damage in the inning—aiding her own cause —by delivering a three-run home run over the left-center field wall. UTSA put one-spots on the board in the bottom of the second and third innings, and Holmes added a run in the bottom of the fifth on her seventh homer of the season. Humpal, who has consistently improved since a March 9 game against Baylor, finished the day going seven innings, allowing only one hit and one unearned run while striking out three.
“We’re playing really well right now down the stretch,” Head Coach Lori Cook said. “Our last 10, 11 games have been really great games, and we’re firing on all cylinders. Everything is working.”
Cook has seen her team go through the ups and downs standard to playing the 52-game regular season.
“We struggled all year,” Cook said. “And I kept telling them it matters where we’re at in the end. There’s no reason for us not to go to the conference tournament. And we can beat anyone that’s there. I look for us to keep this momentum going.”
Leading the SLC in numerous offensive categories including batting average (.399), hits (57), home runs (12) and total bases (101), Ivy continues to be a threat for opposing pitchers in her breakout season.
“I’ve worked really hard with some of the things I struggled with last year,” the sophomore slugger said of her success at the plate. But not overlooking the ultimate goal of an SLC tourney championship and an automatic NCAA tournament qualifier, Ivy humbly acknowledged the benefit of defeating rival Texas State.
“It was great,” Ivy said. “It’s a great part of our stride going into the conference tournament. It was a big win for us, puts us in a great spot.”
The ‘Runners meet the Lady Demons of Northwestern State in the final SLC series of the season May 8-9.
All Roadrunner highlights, including scores and statistics from the SLC tournament, can be found at goUTSA.com.