AUSTIN (KXAN) — One of the nation’s best offenses flexed its muscle at McCombs Field on Sunday.
The No. 9 Texas Longhorns scored seven runs in the first three innings to run their winning streak to nine games in an 8-1 win over Louisiana to end the Longhorn Invitational.
MORE THAN THE SCORE: Stay up to date on sports stories like these, and sign up for our More than the Score sports newsletter at kxan.com/newsletters
Designate player Courtney Day provided the big hit for the Longhorns in their 4-run third inning, a 2-run home run that sailed over the left-center wall to give Texas a 5-1 lead. It was Day’s team-leading fifth homer of the season, and over the past couple of weeks, she said she’s been “trying to slow the game down.”
“I had a different mindset going into this weekend,” Day said. “I was trying to speed things up last week and trying to do more than I had to. I wanted to focus on my approach and our game plan going into each game.”
Day ended Sunday’s game against the Ragin’ Cajuns 2-for-3 with three RBIs and did even more damage on Friday in the teams’ first matchup. She clobbered a pair of home runs for a 2-for-3 performance with five RBIs in that game and finished the 5-game tournament going 7-for-13. Day had a chance to put the game away by invoking the 8-run mercy rule in the sixth inning, but Louisiana opted to intentionally walk her to load the bases. It ended up being the right move to prolong the game, and Longhorns head coach Mike White knew why they did it.
“She was on fire this weekend, and when she’s hot, she’s hot,” White said. “When’s she driving the ball like, she’s tough.”
Coming into Sunday’s matchup, Texas was No. 2 nationally with a .389 batting average and No. 6 in runs per game at 8.47, and with the mix of power and speed the Longhorns have, they can create runs in a variety of ways and they’ll give any team they play trouble.
“We’re dangerous, that’s for sure,” White said. “The top of our order has been lights out, and we’ve got to keep our minds in it and stay grounded.”
Viviana Martinez smacked an RBI double in the bottom of the first to give Texas the lead and Leighann Goode drove in Bella Dayton with a single in the second inning before Day blasted off. Senior outfielder Lou Gilbert hit a double in the sixth to score Dayton for the Longhorns’ final run of the game.
Freshman pitcher Citlaly Gutierrez notched her fifth win of the season with a complete game performance. She scattered seven hits and allowed three earned runs with three strikeouts and three walks. Louisiana’s hitters got to her in the first and seventh innings when she left pitches up and over the plate, but after the Ragin’ Cajuns tagged her for a run to open the game, she settled in and allowed just one hit until the seventh inning.
“She was having trouble finding the strike zone with the umpire, and she had a couple of pitches that could have been called either way and she wasn’t getting them, so that can frustrate a young pitcher,” White said. “She just had to concentrate on throwing her pitches and not worry about that stuff, then she kept it down and got those outs.”
Gutierrez threw 77 pitches and had an even split with eight flyouts and eight groundouts. The Ragin’ Cajuns hit back-to-back solo home runs off her in the seventh inning, but that wasn’t nearly enough to get White to stop Gutierrez from finishing her nice performance.
Gutierrez has a 1.75 ERA in 32 innings pitched so far this season and was part of five freshmen to start for the Longhorns. Martinez, who White said was one of the youngest recruits while he was the head coach for the Oregon Ducks, is hitting .524 this season with 21 RBIs. Infielder Leighann Goode, a San Antonio native, is hitting .456 and speedster Ashton Maloney is hitting .447. Reese Atwood caught for Gutierrez and has hit two home runs this season.
“Kudos to Coach Singleton and our recruiting staff,” White said. “Martinez was an early commit at Oregon and we were able to flip her to come here, so that was a pretty good deal there.”
Texas (17-2-1) will head north to take on UT-Arlington on Wednesday but is back home for the weekend hosting the Bevo Classic. The Longhorns will take on Wisconsin to start Friday’s action and then will get the biggest test of the season against Alabama and All-American pitcher Montana Fouts. Fouts threw the second perfect game of her career on Sunday against Longwood, and that was a day after her teammate Jaala Torrence threw a no-hitter against Robert Morris. White said he’s looking forward to the challenge but he doesn’t want his players to “make it bigger than it is.”
“They’re a tough team, no doubt about it, and Montana Fouts is definitely one of the best in the country,” White said. “It’s going to be a great matchup and we’re looking forward to it.”