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The University Star


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Texas State becomes home to two Women’s Professional Fastpitch teams

Photo Courtesy of Texas State Athletics
A photo of Bobcat Softball Stadium on the campus of Texas State University.

Texas State softball alumnae Jessica Mullins and Sara Vanderford likely thought it was their final game on Bobcat turf when they won the Sun Belt Conference tournament this past May.

Just five days before the Women’s Professional Fastpitch (WPF) league started its season, however, The Texas Smoke announced on June 15 that Bobcat Softball Stadium was selected as the home stadium for the reigning champions, alongside the league’s most recently added team, the Texas Monarchs.

The Texas Smoke represents Austin, and played its games last season at Concordia University Texas. Mullins signed to The Texas Smoke in late May.

Announced to be added to the league on June 1, the Texas Monarchs represent San Marcos. The Monarchs announced the signing of Vanderford on June 15.

Mullins finished her career as a Bobcat with an ERA under two, 100 career wins, 821 career strikeouts in 853.0 innings pitched and 174 appearances in her career. In each of these categories, she finished in the top five in program history, marking her as statistically one of the best pitchers to enter the circle in a Bobcat uniform.

“It’s kind of a full circle,” Mullins said. “I didn’t even realize that my last game was going to be my last game at Texas State until the game was over.”

She said getting to play at Texas State provides a more wholesome journey for Mullins as she transitions into a pro.

“I’m just really happy we’re both able to officially end our seasons and end our careers at the highest level and at the same place that we call home,” Mullins said.

Mullins is confident Bobcat fans will show their support for her and enjoy watching professional softball at home, she said.

“It’s hard not to go to a pro game whenever it’s right in your home,” Mullins said. “I feel like people who don’t even know about softball or don’t even know how to play softball… they’re going to go and they’re going to fall in love with the game.”

Vanderford also collected multiple accolades throughout her five-year career as a Bobcat. She ranks first in program history in career home runs, doubles, RBIs and total bases. She also ranks second in career batting average, at-bats, runs scored and hits.

“Getting to a different level and being able to compete at the same place, to me it means more,” Vanderford said. “Because it means Texas State will never be forgotten, at least in my world and my softball career.”

Vanderford said one thing that will take getting used to is the absence of the girls she has grown the program with over the last five years.

“That’s part of growing the game and taking a chance,” Vanderford said. “And understanding that, at least in my eyes, to have a mid-major be a host site for a pro league, is huge, and then to have it be in my own backyard, where I’ve played, where I’ve grown up for the last five years, it’s been surreal honestly.”

As much as Vanderford would like to travel while playing professionally, she said playing in San Marcos again is one of the best things about her transition to professional softball.

“I think that’s half the reason I said yes,” Vanderford said. “Just because there is a fanbase here and there are people who know my name, know Jess’ name, and know Texas State softball’s name.”

As Vanderford reset the offensive record books and Mullins became one of the most accomplished pitchers in program history, they left a legacy that will live on and continue in San Marcos.

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