Cat Osterman knows a thing or two about winning games at McCombs Field. Texas State’s assistant coach won 136 of them there during her four-year career with the Longhorns.
Wednesday night, Osterman’s star pupil — Texas State junior Randi Rupp, the Sun Belt’s preseason pitcher of the year — also finally found out what it’s like to win at McCombs. She shut down Texas’ high-powered offense for a 2-1 victory.
It wasn’t Rupp’s first victory over the Longhorns. That happened last year when Texas State defeated then-ranked No. 24 Texas 9-5 at Bobcat Softball Stadium. But it was her first win at McCombs Field in four tries, including a 7-6 loss to Ennis in the Class 4A semifinals of the 2014 state tournament, when she was a senior at Mont Belvieu Barbers Hill.
But unlike last year, Rupp wasn’t dishing out a “Texas butt-whoopin,'” as she characterized that 2016 win. Instead, she was cool and collected, icing UT’s offense that averaged six runs per game at last weekend’s Mary Nutter Classic in California, which included No. 15 Tennessee and No. 20 Missouri in the field.
Rupp gave up five hits and one earned run; Texas senior Tiarra Davis took the loss.
The Bobcats (10-3) took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning on a two-run home run by Ariel Ortiz. Rupp gave up a run in the bottom of the first when Stephanie Wong advanced from third on an illegal pitch. From that point on, Rupp controlled the game, striking out senior Devon Tunning, the team’s third-leading hitter, for the final out.
In the past, when Rupp has discussed her recruiting, there always seemed to be a chip on her shoulder when it came to the Longhorns, who passed on her in favor of Huntington’s Erica Wright in 2014. Rupp and Wright were club teammates.
Maybe that’s why these victories over Texas could be just a little more sweet to her. They likely are for the coach Rupp calls “Coach O” too.
Let’s play in some dirt.
Texas’ offense came to life at the Mary Nutter Classic, where the Longhorns went 4-2 and got their biggest win of the year over 15th-ranked Tennessee. But now the Longhorns are carrying a three-game losing streak.
Here’s a few good things and a few bad things as we head into this weekend’s three-game series at No. 6 Arizona.
- Texas got its first big: Heading into the Mary Nutter, the Longhorns were 0-3 against teams that were either ranked in the NFCA/USA Today Top 25 poll or receiving votes. That changed when they beat Notre Dame (receiving votes) 4-3 and No. 20 Missouri, 10-3. They also handed No. 15 Tennessee its first loss of the season with a 4-2 win.
- The offense comes alive: Through 17 games, Texas already has three players with 10 or more home runs — Tunning (12), freshman Jade Gorterez (10) and sophomore Bekah Alcozer, who leads the team with 15. The team slugging percentage of .455 tops the Big 12.
- Mickenzi Krpec: The senior infielder continues to lead UT in hitting with a .382 batting average despite going hitless in her last eight at-bats. She had a monster game against Tennessee, though, going 2 for 3 with a double and a home run. She also leads the team with six doubles.
- The Longhorns still struggle against strong pitching: If Rupp’s win exposed Texas, it was to send home the fact that Texas struggles against strong pitchers. Minnesota’s Sara Groenewegen was 2-0 against the Longhorns at the Texas Classic. Washington’s Taran Alvelo gave up 10 hits, but only two runs in leading the Huskies past Texas at the Mary Nutter Classic. Arizona will send Danielle O’ Toole, a senior with a 0.39 earned run average, to the circle this weekend, so it’s not going to get any easier.
- The losing streak: The last thing coach Connie Clark wanted was to go into this weekend’s series with Arizona on a three-game losing streak. The Wildcats are 15-1 with their only blemish coming against No. 1 Florida State in the final game of the Mary Nutter. The Seminoles won 1-0.
- Where’s the fans?: Texas offered free admission to students for Wednesday night’s game, even giving away free food to the first 50 who showed up. There was an announced attendance of 713 for a game between two schools separated by 32 miles. For comparison, last year when the two teams met in San Marcos, a recorded attendance of 1,011 fans filled Bobcat Stadium. Then 716 made it to McCombs in the second meeting.
ON DECK: As previously stated, Texas plays a three-game series this weekend at No. 6 Arizona. The Wildcats are 11-7 all-time against Texas, winning their last three meetings. The series begins Friday in Tuscon. Arizona (15-1) went 4-1 last week at the Mary Nutter and run-ruled three of their five opponents, including a 21-2 victory over LIU-Brooklyn in five innings. … Arizona is led by Dejah Mulipola (.550 BA, 4 2Bs, 5 HRs, 21 RBIs) and Katiyana Mauga (.382 BA, 2 2Bs, 7 HRs, 16 RBIs). In the circle, O’ Toole is 8-1 with 62 strikeouts. … All games will be broadcast on 105.3. … The Longhorns return home March 8 to host UTSA (6-8) at 4 p.m.
Here’s the upcoming schedule:
Friday: at No. 6 Arizona, 7 p.m., 105.3
Saturday: at No. 6 Arizona, 7 p.m., 105.3
Sunday: at No. 6 Arizona, 1 p.m., 105.3
Wednesday: vs. UTSA, 4 p.m., LHN, 105.3
AROUND THE HORN: Here’s a quick look at a couple of storylines involving the Big 12, state schools, the Longhorns and their opponents:
- Texas A&M is off to a hot start. The Aggies won’t play UT this year unless the two teams meet in the postseason. A&M is ranked No. 5 in this week’s NFCA/USA Today Top 25 and beat No. 1 Florida State (2-0), No. 21 Arizona State (2-1), No. 23 BYU (11-1) and No. 14 Michigan (3-0) at the Mary Nutter. Sophomore pitcher Samantha Show, who wasn’t recruited by Texas out of East Bernard, was tabbed the NFCA’s national pitcher of the week and the SEC pitcher of the week, going 2-0 with 15 strikeouts in a complete game shutout of the Seminoles. She had 23 total in two appearances. A&M suffered its first loss of the season Wednesday as Houston defeated the Aggies 1-0 in College Station.
- Big 12 weekly awards: Texas pitcher Tiarra Davis and Baylor junior Shelby Friudenberg took home this week’s Big 12 softball honors. Davis was pitcher of the week after tossing a pair of complete games in wins over Missouri and Tennessee. Friudenberg hit .400 this past weekend with an .850 slugging percentage to help lead the Bears to a 7-0 record last week.
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