AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Longhorns softball team is in the national semifinals at the Women’s College World Series.
JJ Smith crushed a 3-run home run in the bottom of the fourth inning to give Texas the lead and pitcher Estelle Czech was brilliant in relief for a 5-2 win over Arizona on Sunday at OGE Energy Field.
Czech came in with one out in the fourth inning and quelled a potential Arizona rally. Taking over for Hailey Dolcini after a 2-run single, Czech struck out two hitters to keep the damage at two runs for Arizona. At the time, that gave the Wildcats a 2-1 lead, but they didn’t have it for long.
After Alyssa Washington walked and Mary Iakopo singled in the bottom half of the frame, Smith hammered a 1-0 pitch over the right-center field wall to give the Longhorns a 4-2 lead and all the cushion that Czech needed to finish the job.
Texas added a run in the fifth inning on a Bella Dayton sacrifice fly to deep right field to score Janae Jefferson. Courtney Day drew the game’s first tally for the Longhorns with a solo home run to left-center in the bottom of the third inning.
Czech allowed just one hit in 3 2/3 innings, a single to Paige Dimler in the seventh inning. Czech faced the minimum in the inning, however, and the game ended on a smooth double play started by Washington, then turned at second by Jefferson with a strong throw to Smith at first.
With the win, Czech moved her record to 12-1 on the year. Six different players had hits for Texas
It’s the first time the Longhorns have been this far in the WCWS since 2013 when they lost to No. 7 Tennesse 2-1. The Longhorns were seeded No. 4 that year and finished the WCWS 2-2. They’re now 2-1 at the WCWS and will face a familiar foe in the semifinals Monday — No. 7 Oklahoma State.
Texas (45-20-1) needs to beat the Cowgirls twice on Monday to advance to the WCWS championship series June 8-10. The first game is scheduled for 6 p.m., if the Longhorns win, the teams will play another game shortly afterward. No. 1 Oklahoma faces No. 5 UCLA in the other semifinal where the Bruins have the tall task of having to beat the Sooners twice to advance.