The Texas Southern Lady Tiger softball team earned their first win of the season by splitting their doubleheader series with Abilene Christian at Memorial Park on Saturday.
TEXAS SOUTHERN 6, ABILENE CHRISTIAN 5
Head coach Raven Rodriguez picked up her first career win as TSU used a big fifth inning and timely pitching from Naomi Reyes to claim the opener 6-5.
Before the game started, TSU had to get adjusted to its new environment as the team christened a brand-new field at Memorial Park after years of playing across the park at another field.
Once the game began, TSU fell behind in the top half of the second inning as starting pitcher Reyes surrendered two runs from a sacrifice bunt and an extra base hit in quick succession. The Lady Tigers’ bats started to click in the third as Emma Ortiz led the inning off single and moved over to third as Crimson Davis reached base on a bunt single which saw ACU commit a throwing error. TSU popped out on the ensuing batter but first baseman Mila Rodriguez came through in the clutch with a two-RBI double to center field which tied the game at 2-2. Daryn Haslam followed with an RBI double and Haley Castro closed the inning out with an RBI single for a 4-2 lead.
Texas Southern’s momentum was soon neutralized as a three-run homer to right field by ACU’s Calie Burris bumped the visitors ahead for a 5-4 game in the top of the fifth.
Nevertheless, TSU mounted another rally in the bottom half of the same inning as they pushed ACU to use their bullpen after forcing the opponent’s starter to concede a single and hit-by-pitch with one out. ACU’s Alivia Sinnott was sent in to relieve starter Samantha Bradley from the mound, but the switch proved to be futile as TSU’s center fielder Ashling Shahan and third baseman Ja’Lynn Swiney put together consecutive RBI walks to wrestle the game back in their favor for good at 6-5.
After a scoreless sixth, the seventh inning wasn’t without drama as TSU opened with two quick outs. However, a hit batter and defensive error put the tying and winning runs on base. Reyes came up big with the weight of the game on her shoulders and forced a strikeout to earn the win.
Reyes accounted for a complete game win from the mound. She struck out nine batters for her first win of 2021.
From the batters’ box, Haslam went 3-for-3 by notching two doubles, one RBI, and two runs scored. Second baseman Crimson Davis had a multi-hit game as well, going 2-for-4 with one run and a stolen base.
ABILENE CHRISTIAN 8, TEXAS SOUTHERN 3
A four-run seventh inning broke the game open for Abilene Christian as they claimed the nightcap by an 8-3 margin.
Much like the first leg of the doubleheader, the second game began in a tense tone with both teams trading leads in the first five innings.
An ACU RBI double in the top of the second was promptly matched by TSU’s Ja’Lynn Swinney’s RBI base hit to center in the bottom half. In the top of the third, Calie Burris reached on a throwing error which led to a 2-1 deficit. TSU left fielder Julia Bilbao led the bottom half of the third off with a triple to right field and Mila Rodriguez tied the game at 2-all after a sac fly. The Tigers jumped ahead 3-2 in the fourth after Bilbao drew a bases loaded walk but ACU responded in the top of the fifth with two runs to move ahead 4-3. TSU came close to tying the game in the fifth but Swinney’s shot to center field with a runner on third was caught at the center field gate.
But it was the seventh inning when the game was decided as ACU opened with three singles and triple off reliever Malea Rodriguez which led to four runs. During the bottom half, TSU’s Ashling Shahan reached base with two outs but that would be the only offense as the contest ended on a fly out to right.
Jazmine Gendorf (0-2) was tagged with the loss as she went six innings with two earned runs allowed. Rodriguez and Lailah Bell also saw action on the mound in the seventh as Bell allowed a hit with no runs.
Shahan distinguished herself as the team’s leading slugger in the second game with a 3-for-4 performance from the box which resulted in one scored run. Crimson Davis and Swinney both went 2-for-4 with an RBI from Swinney.
Up next for TSU is a one-off midweek contest at home against St. Thomas on March 2. First pitch will be thrown at 3 p.m. at Memorial Park.