Texans tourney bound following back-to-back late rallies over Southern Utah Saturday, claim 7-seed


STEPHENVILLE – Tarleton State has once again clinched a WAC Softball Tournament berth after taking down Southern Utah in back-to-back seventh inning rallies at the Tarleton Softball Complex.

After dropping the opening game of the series Friday evening 4-3, Game 2 of the series was suspended in the bottom of the second inning due to inclement weather. The Game 1 loss came in heartbreaking fashion as the Texans headed into the sixth inning with a 3-2 lead before the Thunderbirds hit a two-run shot to left field taking the 4-3 lead and pulling off the victory.

“I’m so proud of this team, I don’t even know where the start,” said head coach Mark Cumpian. “They battled all day in ugly conditions and in both games they found a way to win late. We have preached the last few weeks about just finding a way to have an opportunity at the end of the season to get in the conference tournament and everything just lined up perfectly.”

“I’m proud of our seniors for battling all year and for not giving up when times got tough, they have earned this trip to Seattle,” continued Cumpian. “We are excited to play in the postseason because now anything can happen, and it still gives us a shot at a WAC Championship. This team is going to fight until the end.”

With no more softball to be played on Friday, Game 2 was set to resume Saturday at 9 a.m. and it was a thriller until the very end, the first of two on the day. Things resumed in the bottom of the second with a 1-0 Texans lead. Both teams traded goose eggs for the next three innings before Southern Utah took their only lead of the contest.

In the top of the fifth with Emily Gonzalez on, Karmyna Becerra stepped to the plate looking to take the Thunderbirds first lead of the contest. She did that hitting a no doubter to dead center putting the road team up 2-1 after failing to get anything across through the first four innings.

Southern Utah in the top of the sixth added an insurance run as Kassidy Munoz hit a solo shot down the left field line. This marked the fourth homer of the weekend for Southern Utah. The Red and Black continued their streak of scoring every run of the series thus far using the long ball.

Now facing a 3-1 deficit in a must win game, the Texans put on the first show of the day for the home crowd rallying in the bottom of the sixth with a three-spot to put the Texans just three outs away from a comeback win.

With Hannah Reed on third after coming in to run for Katy Schaefer and advancing around the base paths, senior Brady Rowland hit a sac fly to center allowing Reed to come home and make it a one-run game. Kalyn Hill reached on a single followed by Jordan Dickerson reaching on a error put the tying and go-ahead runs aboard. Sophomore Hayden Fox stepped up to the plate in a huge spot looking to take the lead back for Tarleton State. The count was full with two outs on the board but that didn’t faze the young utility player as she blasted a two-run double to left field putting the Texans back in the driver’s seat for the first time since the Purple and White had the 1-0 lead through the fourth.

The Texans were just three outs away from evening the series and making Game 3 a do or die with their season on the line due to SFA’s upset win over the No. 2 team in the WAC, California Baptist in Riverside, California, Friday night.

Gonzalez, Becerra and Ariyana Miranda were due up for the Thunderbirds in the seventh looking to force another half inning of play. The Texans used just 10 pitches to set the three down in order. Gonalez popped up to Trull as shortstop on a 3-1 count before Becerra grounding out to Trull on a 1-0 count putting the road teams backs against the wall as they were down to their last out.

Miranda quickly went down 0-2 before grounded out to Schaefer at third and the Texans pulling off one of their biggest comeback victories of the season to keep their postseason aspirations alive.

The 4-3 victory over the Thunderbirds marked the Texans 100th victory as a Division I institution and senior Makenzie Dunbar was credited with her fourth win of the day after tossing two scoreless innings of relief.

For Southern Utah, they used a pair of hurlers splitting the innings down the middle with each throwing 3.0 innings. Keimon Winston earned the start but was pulled after giving up just one run on three hits, striking out one and walking one as well. The Red and Black turned to Delaney Baker looking for her to keep the Texans at bay as the scored remained 1-0. Baker ultimately game up the three runs including the winning run knocked in by Fox. The Southern Utah twirler went the back 3.0 innings giving up three runs (two earned) on three hits and walked a pair.

For Tarleton State, they also use a duo in the circle giving Hannah Blincoe the start. Blincoe did the bulk of the work going 5.0 IP before being pulled after giving up all three of the Thunderbirds runs. The Georgetown, Texas, native closed her day giving up three runs on five hits, striking out four and walking a pair. After giving up the lead, the Texans turned to the senior right-hander from Crawford, Texas, in a huge spot as the Texans looking to stop the bleeding. Dunbar came out with throwing a dominating 2.0 innings of relief allowing not a single hit but did put two on via walks.

Tarleton State 8 Southern Utah 7

With their season on the line, the Texans gave it everything they had putting up a four-spot rally in the seventh inning punching their second ticket to the WAC Softball Tournament in as many years eligible.

The Purple and got the scoring started again in the first inning with Kelci Hill scoring off a sac fly from Trull to right field making it 1-0 early.

In the next half inning the Thunderbirds took the lead 2-1 as Gonzalez doubled through the right-side driving in Laurie Cooke and Taralyn Ollison.

Tarleton State then took the lead back in the bottom of the third as Kelci Hill doubled to right center driving in Fox who reached on a double of her own. Wallace then tripled to left center to make it 3-2 home team as Kelci Hill came into score.

In the fifth inning things took a turn for the worst as Southern Utah put up a five-spot to go up 7-3 and potentially end the Texans season being just three innings away from doing so.

Miranda reached on a fielder’s choice as Ollison rounded the bases and tied things up 3-3. Cooke then scored the go-ahead run off a wild pitch making it 4-3. With the bases juiced, Capri Franzen walked pushing the lead to 5-3. The lead then swelled to four as Alayah Toscano reached on an error allowing Arianna Ramirez and Miranda to come home to put a win for the Texans seemingly out of the picture as it was now 7-3.

In the fifth inning the Texans started the comeback as Kelci Hill hit a opposite field shot over the left field wall to bring the Tarleton State within three. This marked the first of three homers over three innings.

The seventh inning was once again magical for the Texans. In a comeback that couldn’t have been written anymore perfect saw the Texans put up a four-spot to clinch their second berth to the postseason in their second year eligible.

Fox got things started reaching base on a walk before advancing to second on a wild pitch. Ashlee LaRue then flew out to center field as Fox used her wheels to move herself just 60 feet away from home. With the Texans down to their final strike of their season, Kelci Hill doubled to left center driving in Fox making it 7-5. This marked Kelci Hill’s third double of the game. With the tying run at the plate in Wallace, she wasted no time swinging on the first pitch blasting a two-run shot to right field to tie things up at 7-7.

At this point Southern Utah pulled Baker who had given up four runs over her two innings of work and allowed the Texans to storm back to at a minimum force extra innings or better yet walk it off.

The Thunderbirds decided to bring Winston, the Game 2 starter out of the bullpen. Her time in the circle this time was short lived as Trull hit one high over the left field foul pole, walking off Game 3 and punching their ticket to the 2024 WAC Softball Tournament.

Following an emotional seventh inning the Texans honored seven seniors for their time with the program. The seven seniors are, Wallace, Kelci Hill, LaRue, Brady Rowland, Dickerson, Schaefer and Dunbar.

The Texans will now head to Seattle for the WAC Tournament making their second appearance in as many years and will look for their first tournament win after falling to California Baptist in extra innings last year in Phoenix.

Tarleton State’s first round game is a win or go home and they will face in-state WAC foe and No. 6 in the tournament UT Arlington. The game is scheduled for a 12 p.m. CT and will air live on ESPN+. Live stats and radio will be available as well as Kyle Crews will be on the call for the Texans.

Following a win in the opening round the Texans then will face Utah Valley in what will move to a double elimination round at 4 p.m. PT/6 p.m. CT.

For the latest news on the Texans follow Tarleton Softball on Facebook, Instagram and X @tarletonsoftball.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.