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Softball misses record-breaking opportunity in series loss to South Alabama

No. 23 Texas State softball fell short of a record-breaking 19-game win streak April 9-11 after suffering its first series sweep to the University of South Alabama Jaguars.
The Bobcats went into the series with 18 consecutive victories, tied for first in school history. They entered the series 14-2 against South Alabama.
A tense 7-6 win against Texas A&M University on April 6 off a walk-off double from sophomore infielder Sara Vanderford added even more momentum for a historic Bobcat series.
The momentum withered once the first pitch flew on April 9. However, South Alabama junior outfielder Caroline Nichols started the game with a base hit and a stolen base, putting her in scoring position at third. A wild pitch from freshman right-handed pitcher Jessica Mullins allowed Nichols to dash to home plate, putting the Jaguars up early.
Texas State never seemed to get into a rhythm after the score, earning no hits until the bottom of the third when freshman infielder Baylee Lemons doubled to start the inning but ended the inning stranded on base.
From then on, the bats remained quiet for the rest of the game. A solo home run blasted past the left wall by junior infielder Belle Wolfenden in the top of the fifth doubled the Jaguar lead to 2-0. Junior catcher Caitlyn Rogers responded with a single just to the right of second base, while two Bobcat batters earned walks after being hit by pitches.
Vanderford earned her 30th RBI of the season with the bases loaded after grounding one to second when senior outfielder ArieAnn Bell converted from third base to close the gap to 2-1. The inning ended anticlimactically when senior outfielder Tara Oltmann’s pop fly left the bases loaded and the deficit intact.
Junior infielder Kennedy Cronan immediately responded for South Alabama with an RBI double to move ahead 3-1. The Bobcats mustered only one more hit from then on, a double from junior catcher Cat Crenek in the bottom of the sixth. The seventh ended with three straight ground outs from the Bobcats, the program record intact.
Texas State ended up with three hits to South Alabama’s nine, three of which came from Nichols. Mullins pitched nearly six innings but managed eight strikeouts compared to South Alabama senior pitcher Allie Hughen’s two, although Hughen remained at the mound all seven innings and threw 110 pitches.
The Bobcats’ Head Coach Ricci Woodward did not want to speculate if the weight of expectation or possible complacency factored into the loss. Her players’ behavior did not indicate any mental slip-ups, she says, pinning the loss on South Alabama’s superior performance.
The second game of the series the following day, a 1-0 loss for Texas State, proved just as offensively limited with only two Bobcat hits, one from Crenek and one from senior outfielder Kylie George. South Alabama totaled eight hits — Nichols with two, second to a game-leading three hits from sophomore outfielder Mackenzie Brasher.
A single pitcher managed the entire game for South Alabama once again, this time a seven-strikeout performance from freshman pitcher Olivia Lackie. Texas State’s senior pitcher Meagan King earned nine strikeouts in her six and one-third innings, while senior pitcher Dalilah Barrera hit a Jaguar for a walk with the bases loaded to get the only run of the game in the one-third inning she pitched before being relieved.
Needing to recover from their first consecutive losses of the season, the Bobcats sought to liven up their hitting to rescue a positive from the weekend. While the bats did wake up for Texas State, eclipsing its opponent’s nine hits to eight, the Jaguars’ hitting also made up for lost time on the series’ last game and led South Alabama to a 7-4 win and the series sweep.
Cronan singled up the middle for two runs in the top of the first to sour the game early for the Bobcats, but a homer from Bell to right-center in the bottom of the second brought Bell and Oltmann in to draw level 2-2.
The top of the third saw South Alabama explode offensively at the expense of Texas State sophomore pitcher Tori McCann, who allowed all of the Jaguars’ eight hits and seven runs in two and two-thirds innings and 50 pitches.
South Alabama senior infielder Abby Krzywiecki sent one past the left wall to bring Brasher, who led the game with two hits, and herself home for a 4-2 lead. Senior utility player Kamdyn Kvistad drove in three more runs with a home run down the left-field line, creating a scoring chasm for the trailing Bobcats at 7-2 and forcing Woodward to pull McCann for Mullins.
Texas State senior outfielder Marisa Cruz started the attempted comeback as the first batter in the bottom of the third with a home run to left field. Oltmann singled to center field for a run to make it 7-4, but the Bobcats only managed three more hits for the rest of the game. Mullins and King kept the rest of the game clean with no hits or runs.
Texas State batted .188 (13-69) on the series, while South Alabama hit for .313 (26-83). Offensive struggles were not the only issue, but the barren batting numbers did more than enough damage to sink the Bobcats and their record-setting aspirations.
“I just feel like they pitched better than us,” Woodward says. “They hit better than us. They got the job done in the slapping game, the short game. They did a better job in every aspect of the game tonight.”
A single game against Baylor University (21-8 overall, 3-0 Big 12) on April 14 in Waco will serve as a bounce-back opportunity for the Bobcats before they take on the No. 14 University of Louisiana at Lafayette on April 16.
Baylor also enters the game on the wrong end of a series sweep, a three-game road trip to Brigham Young University that ended on April 2. Two of Baylor’s subsequent series, a doubleheader against Abilene Christian University and a full three games versus the No. 1 University of Oklahoma, were postponed.
The first pitch will be thrown at 6 p.m. on April 14 at Getterman Stadium in Waco, broadcasted on ESPN+.

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