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The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Bobcats sweep final doubleheader to close out Texas State Tournament

Meg Boles
Texas State freshman pitcher Madison Azua (22) throws a fast pitch, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024, at Bobcat Softball Stadium.

One might raise an eyebrow if they were told a Texas State vs. Southern Illinois matchup in February is a must-win game, but it was as close to a must-win game as it could have been. After a tough 6-1 loss to the same opponent the night before, with senior outfielder Piper Randolph suffering an injury, a win was needed for team morale.

Texas State softball (4-1) started the fourth and final day of the Texas State Tournament with a rematch against Southern Illinois University (3-2) on Sunday morning at Bobcat Softball Stadium. A game-one gem from senior pitcher Jessica Mullins, along with clutch hits from sophomore and senior utilities Katarina Zarate and Anna Jones, carried the Bobcats to a 3-1 victory over the Salukis.

Mullins was the star of the game, as she carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning and gave up zero earned runs. The Sun Belt Preseason Pitcher of the Year also recorded eight strikeouts and allowed only three hits and one walk in seven innings.

“We just had to review ourselves and review our mistakes and check our mentality to be able to bounce back after a good night’s rest,” Mullins said. “We just had to be ourselves, and we [knew we] could do it.”

The Bobcats grabbed the lead early and never looked back as Zarate drove in two runs off an RBI double down the third base line in the second inning.

Southern Illinois’s lone score came in the sixth inning, when junior outfielder Emma Austin scored due to an errant throw home by Texas State senior infielder Hannah Earls, making the score 2-1. The Bobcats quickly responded with an opposite-field RBI double from Jones in the bottom half of the same inning to seal the victory.

In the second matchup of the day the Bobcats faced Creighton University (3-2) for the first time in the tournament.

Graduate student pitcher Tori McCann took the circle for the Bobcats in the contest. McCann struggled early, giving up four runs on as many hits and did not make it out of the first. Freshman pitcher Maddy Azua took over for her and posted five and a third innings while giving up no runs on only four hits with three strikeouts.

The Bobcats’ bats started sluggish again. They had no hits until graduate student infielder Sara Vanderford broke through with a single in the fourth inning.

The Bobcats were down two runs going into the seventh until sophomore utility Sydney Harvey, who was starting in place of the injured Randolph, got things going with a walk, followed by singles from senior utility Hannah Earls and junior outfielder Ciara Trahan.

This allowed sophomore catcher Kamryn Bass to walk things off with a two-RBI single and send Bobcat Nation home happy.

“We all know how to come together at the end of the day,” Bass said. “There’s going to be hits here and there, but we know at the end of the day we’re going to be able to string the hits we need together.”

Though her team executed in the end, Head Coach Ricci Woodard said she’d like to see the Bobcats take charge instead of falling behind early.

“I like our resiliency, but I’d like to be more aggressive early in the game,” Woodard said. “We’re too good [of] a team to do that because we’re going to get beat. That’s not the way we want to live.”

The Bobcats went 5-1 on the weekend and look to carry the established momentum as they host a second straight tournament at Bobcat Softball Stadium, beginning with Sam Houston University (0-2).

The first pitch between Texas State and Sam Houston is scheduled to be thrown at 5 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 15, at Bobcat Softball Stadium. The tournament will be available to stream on ESPN+.

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