Devon Tunning makes contact with the ball and gets on base in a game against North Carolina on Feb. 13, 2016 at McCombs Field. (LAURA SKELDING/AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Softball

Another rally keeps Texas softball team unbeaten

Walk-off sac fly by freshman caps comeback

Posted February 14th, 2016

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Story highlights
  • Longhorns rally for fourth straight game
  • Freshmen playing key role for squad

For the fourth straight game of the Texas Classic, Texas (5-0) rallied to preserve its perfect record.

The Longhorns defeated North Dakota State 3-2 Sunday at McCombs Field on a walk-off sacrifice from freshman Reagan Hathaway to score Celina Felix, who tripled in the previous at-bat.

The run completed a seventh-inning comeback that began with Lindsey Stephens’ solo-home run to lead off the inning.

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“Celina really stepped up with that triple, so I didn’t really care how I did it, I just knew I needed to drive in that run to get the win,” Hathaway said. “That’s just how all our games went this weekend, which is pretty amazing.”

Texas trailed 2-0 until Devon Tunning scored in the third inning after freshman Christina Bardwell was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.

The Longhorns, who left 10 runners on base in the game, trailed 2-1 going into Texas’ final at-bat, when Hathaway became the latest of Texas’ newcomers to provide late-inning heroics.

On Saturday against North Carolina, transfer Paige von Sprecken hit a three-run double in the sixth inning to give Texas a 7-6 lead after the Longhorns trailed 6-0 through 3 1/2 innings. She then retired the side in the seventh inning to seal the win.

Christina Bardwell played the hero in Friday’s 6-5 win over the Tar Heels. The freshman from Huffman hit a two-RBI single to tie the game in the sixth inning, and Celina Felix drove in the game-winning run after being hit by a pitch.

“They don’t play like newcomers, and they don’t act like newcomers,” senior outfielder Lindsey Stephens said. “Those girls just came in with the mentality that they’ve played this game for 18 years and nothing’s different. It’s refreshing to have freshmen come in and absorb so much and not be timid against the opponent.”

Texas’ newcomers shined bright all weekend, not just in clutch situations.

Felix, a transfer from Mt. San Antonio College, had a batting average of .429 to lead the Longhorns with three RBIs and three runs scored.

Bardwell was Texas’ second leading hitter, batting .400 with four RBIs. Hathaway was 3-for-10 with three runs and a double.

“With recruiting nowadays, we get commitments so early, so the hardest part is having to wait for them,” said head coach Connie Clark. “We were real excited about this class, knowing there was some versatility and some big-time players. After the first game, getting through the butterflies, they settled in and obviously stepped up big for us.”

Texas will travel to Houston this weekend to play in the Hilton Houston Invitational at the University of Houston. The Longhorns open the tournament on Friday with a doubleheader against Toledo and Ball State beginning at 9 a.m.

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