AUSTIN (KXAN) — For the eighth time in program history, the Texas softball team is in the super regionals.
The 13th-seeded Longhorns won the Austin regional tournament Sunday with an 11-5 win over rival Texas A&M to finish the opening round 3-0. Texas will head to Knoxville, Tennessee to take on No. 4 Tennessee in the super regionals. The Lady Vols beat Indiana 7-3 to finish its regional tournament with a perfect 3-0 mark. Game 1 of the super regionals is set for 3 p.m. Friday.
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It was the second time the Longhorns beat the Aggies in the regional tournament at McCombs Field. Texas topped Seton Hall 8-0 in five innings on Friday to open the four-team, double-elimination tournament, then squeaked by the Aggies 2-1 in the semifinals on Saturday. Texas A&M beat Texas State 2-1 in eight innings on Friday, and following their loss to the Longhorns, the Aggies played the Bobcats again Saturday and won 4-2 to advance to face the Longhorns again.
“I’m real proud of my team at how they kept fighting,” Longhorns head coach Mike White said. “A&M fought hard too, and it’ll be an interesting series once we get that in a couple of years.”
The Longhorns didn’t waste any time getting on the scoreboard with four runs in the first inning. Courtney Day delivered a 2-run double to right field to plate Bella Dayton and Mia Scott to chase Texas A&M starting pitcher Shaylee Ackerman out of the circle after not recording an out. Day finished the game 2-for-5 with five RBIs for the Longhorns, adding another double in the fifth to drive in three runs.
White moved Day into the clean-up spot in the lineup because of what he saw out of her in practice. Day has been battling some injuries lately and was moved down, but White didn’t hesitate to get her powerful bat back in the middle of the order once he thought she was ready.
“Reese (Atwood) was struggling a little bit, so we wanted to give her a little more time and move her down, so it really fit what we wanted to do,” White said about moving Day up in the lineup.
The Longhorns scored four runs in the fifth inning to take a 10-2 lead and were in line to run-rule the Aggies, but A&M pinch hitter Riley Valentine blasted a 3-run home run way over the left-field wall off Mac Morgan to extend the game.
“We needed that big start,” White said. “They know how to hit fast pitchers, that’s for sure.”
Despite the homer she allowed late in the game, Morgan picked up her 18th win of the season in the circle. She put on a clinic on how to pitch to contact, scattering six hits through five innings. She struck out two, walked one and got the Aggies to ground out seven times. Sophia Simpson pitched the sixth and seventh, striking out four with three walks. She allowed one hit in the 10 batters she faced.
Atwood went 2-for-3 for the Longhorns with a double and the Longhorns smacked 10 hits.
Last season, Texas (45-13-1) went into the NCAA tournament unseeded and ended up in the Women’s College World Series championship series after a regional win in Seattle and a super regional win in Fayetteville, Arkansas.