AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Longhorns softball team ran into a Tennessee orange-colored buzzsaw in the super regionals.
The Longhorns won’t be returning to the Women’s College World Series after Saturday’s 9-0 loss to the fourth-seeded Tennessee Lady Volunteers at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium in Knoxville. Tennessee won 5-2 on Friday, and the Lady Vols swept the best-of-three series to end Texas’ season.
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Tennessee outscored Texas 14-2 over two games to advance to the WCWS in Oklahoma City beginning June 1. The Lady Vols will play fifth-seeded Alabama in the opening round of the WCWS, and the Longhorns ended their season with a 45-15-1 record.
In Saturday’s game, shaky defense led to five errors and the biggest of them all allowed four runs to score in the seventh inning. Giulia Koutsoyanopulos hit a single to right field with the bases loaded, but the ball slipped under Ashton Maloney’s glove and rolled all the way to the wall. Two runs would have scored regardless, but the error allowed the runner from first base to score and Koutsoyanopulos sped all the way around the bases to make the score 8-0.
“First off, congratulations to the University of Tennessee for making it to the Women’s College World Series for the first time in a little bit. It was a classy act out here all weekend,” Longhorns head coach Mike White said. “It’s always tough to finish the year out, especially when we let ourselves down a little bit there with five errors and nine runs allowed. That’s just a tough way to finish it, especially after how well Citlaly (Gutierrez) threw for us.”
Gutierrez pitched 5.2 innings and allowed two earned runs on four hits with four strikeouts and three walks, a nice outing given how good the Lady Vols’ lineup is. Tennessee’s Payton Gottshall was better, however, and threw a complete game two-hitter with five strikeouts and two walks. Gottshall needed just 80 pitches to go the distance.
With five freshmen named to the Big 12 all-freshman team and a solid returning core, the Longhorns are set up to make noise in the years ahead. White said that ending a season is always a low point, he knows the talent coming back has the potential to consistently take his club deep in the postseason.
“We have a lot of work to do, but I feel confident and proud of our team,” he said. “We have a really good group of young women, and we have a lot to build on, and this season was just a start for us.”
Gutierrez ended her freshman season with a 13-6 record and a 2.00 ERA in 108.2 innings pitched, and she said this should help propel the Longhorns to success in the future.
“We have to use this weekend as motivation for next season and just keep on building on what we have,” she said. “We have a lot of young talent, so I think over the coming years, we are going to have something special.”