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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

Zarate’s walk-off home run sends Bobcats to Sun Belt tournament championship

Texas+State+sophomore+utility+Katarina+Zarate+%2828%29+celebrates+the+game-winning+home+run+during+the+Sun+Belt+conference+semifinal+game+against+South+Alabama%2C+Friday%2C+May+10%2C+2024%2C+at+Texas+State+Softball+Stadium.
Mandalyn Lewallen
Texas State sophomore utility Katarina Zarate (28) celebrates the game-winning home run during the Sun Belt conference semifinal game against South Alabama, Friday, May 10, 2024, at Texas State Softball Stadium.

Sophomore second baseman Katarina Zarate hit a walk-off home run in the eighth inning as Texas State softball (44-13, 18-6 Sun Belt Conference) defeated the University of South Alabama (32-18-1, 16-8 Sun Belt Conference) 4-3 in the semifinal round of the Sun Belt Conference tournament Friday night at Bobcat Softball Stadium. 

Zarate’s clutch home run came on the first pitch of the at-bat and sent the Bobcats to the Sun Belt Finals against Louisiana-Lafayette.

“Coach Woodard has been telling me all season I have to swing the bat first pitch, so I really just trusted her in that moment,” Zarate said. “I couldn’t have been there without my teammates getting us back in the game.”

Texas State sophomore utility Sydney Harvey knocked in the Bobcat’s first run of the game as she slapped a single the opposite way with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth inning, making the score 3-1.

“I have already been on [Harvey], telling her earlier in the game about not swinging the bat,” Texas State Head Coach Ricci Woodard said. “I asked her what her thoughts were, and she said, ‘It’s new at bat, coach.'”

Senior shortstop Hannah Earls followed Harvey’s RBI single with a single of her own, driving in two runs and tying the game. 

Texas State freshman pitcher Madison Azua started the game, allowing two earned runs in 3 ⅓ innings. Senior pitcher Jessica Mullins pitched the rest of the game, allowing one earned run with a whopping nine strikeouts in 4 ⅔ innings.

Texas State senior pitcher Jessica Mullins (4) pitches the ball during the Sun Belt Conference semifinal game against South Alabama, Friday, May 10, 2024, at Texas State Softball Stadium. (Mandalyn Lewallen)

“I think that was the best I pitched all season,” Mullins said.

South Alabama scored all of its runs in the fourth inning, as sophomore infielder Gabby Stagner hit a solo home run and redshirt senior infielder Odalys Cordova hit a two-run double, respectively.

“I would have loved to have seen it turn out the other way, but those are close games that can go either way,” South Alabama Head Coach Becky Clark said. “I think the biggest thing is you have to be able to walk away from that game knowing you left it all on the field and you did everything you could do, and I felt like we did that.”

Senior pitcher Olivia Lackie suffered the loss on the mound, allowing four runs in 7 ⅓ innings.

Texas State will face No. 18 Louisiana-Lafayette in the Sun Belt Finals Saturday afternoon at Bobcat Softball Stadium. 

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