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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

Three takeaways from Texas State softball’s 3-1 week

The+Texas+State+softball+team+huddles+together+during+the+game+against+Baylor%2C+Wednesday%2C+April+3%2C+2024%2C+at+Texas+State+Softball+Stadium.
Mandalyn Lewallen
The Texas State softball team huddles together during the game against Baylor, Wednesday, April 3, 2024, at Texas State Softball Stadium.

#23 Texas State softball (32-9, 9-3 Sun Belt Conference) went 3-1 this past week, defeating #24 Baylor University (21-14, 5-10 BIG 12 Conference) 6-1 before taking down conference rival Troy University (27-15, 7-5 Sun Belt Conference) in a three-game series.

Here are three takeaways from the Bobcat’s performance last week:

 

J.J. Smith is a game changer

Senior first baseman J.J. Smith has been on a power surge in 2024. She leads the team in home runs with seven, tied with graduate student third baseman Sara Vanderford. Smith only hit two home runs in each of her three collegiate seasons, making her performance all the more impressive this season.

Three of Smith’s home runs were hit against Troy last weekend, with one in each of the three games. Additionally, Smith notched a double, two singles, and three walks against the Trojans last Friday through Sunday and a two-run single against Baylor last Wednesday.

In addition to leading the team in home runs, Smith is now second on the team in OPS with .925 and RBIs with 29. Smith is hot at the right time as the Bobcats gear up to face her former team, #1 University of Texas (31-6, 11-4 BIG 12 Conference).

 

Series finales continue to be the Bobcats’ kryptonite

It’s challenging to find anything wrong with how the Bobcats have played thus far in 2024, but there is always room for improvement. Although they were just an out away from victory, Texas State dropped the series finale against Troy last Sunday in an epic 12-inning showdown.

With the loss on Sunday, the Bobcats fell to 1-3 in the last four series finales.

“I think it’s tough to beat someone three times,” Texas State Head Coach Ricci Woodard said. “We already know game three is going to be a tough one; we have to just keep grinding [them] out.”

 

This weekend will determine who takes control of the Sun Belt

Texas State once again proved they are a team to be reckoned with, as they outscored Troy, who is in the Sun Belt Conference, 20-5 last weekend. The series victory over the Trojans further established the Bobcats’ image of a powerhouse team, with key contributions from almost the entire team. Senior shortstop Hannah Earls went 8-13 with two stolen bases, senior center fielder Piper Randolph went 5-12 with 4 RBIs, sophomore left fielder Sydney Harvey collected four hits, and senior pitcher Jessica Mullins pitched 16.2 innings without allowing an earned run.

Texas State’s 9-3 conference record is second-best in the Sun Belt behind #21 Louisiana-Lafayette (27-13, 12-0 Sun Belt Conference). The two star-studded teams will face off in a three-game set this upcoming weekend.

Besides their formidable national rankings and records, the Bobcats and Ragin’ Cajuns have demonstrated they are objectively the best teams in the Sun Belt with the quality of the teams they both have defeated.

The University of Louisiana-Monroe (25-15, 8-4 Sun Belt Conference) is third in the Sun Belt standings and was swept by South Alabama (21-14-1, 7-5 Sun Belt Conference) earlier this season. South Alabama is tied with Troy for fourth in the Sun Belt standings, and Texas State is 4-2 combined against the two teams. With the Bobcats’ record against top conference opponents and Louisiana-Lafayette’s perfect conference record, this weekend will, without question, have Texas State fans’ hearts racing.

The opening pitch between Texas State and Texas is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 10, at Red & Charline McCombs Field in Austin, Texas. The game will be available to stream on the Longhorn Network.

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