A three-run home run by Raven Richardson and a solid pitching performance by freshman ace Cara Custer helped the Red Raiders knock off on their in-state rival Texas Longhorns 5-2 Tuesday at Rocky Johnson Field.
The win snapped a nine-game losing streak against Texas, which dates back to March 27, 2008, when Tech pulled off a narrow 5-4 victory in Lubbock. It also matches the win total in Big 12 Conference play from last season.
The win solidified his preseason predictions of the team playing well against top competition, Tech head coach Shanon Hays said.
“We’d have a chance to beat anyone we’ve played as long as we get good pitching performances,” he said, “and obviously Cara (Custer) went out and gave us a chance to win, and you gotta score runs to win, and obviously one big hit is what it takes in games like this.”
Tech broke through and got the better of Longhorns ace Blaire Luna who tormented the Red Raiders in their first meeting in Austin on March 6 — throwing a scoreless game while striking out eight batters. The loss marks Luna’s second of the season; her first was against California on March 15. The Golden Bears are currently number one in the nation.
The Longhorns got the scoring started in the first with a Nadia Taylor RBI single to bring in Lexi Bennett, the school’s all-time leader in RBIs and recently third overall draft pick by the Akron Racers of the National Pro Fastpitch.
Texas would score another run in the third by a Bennett RBI double, putting the Longhorns up 2-0.
After three scoreless innings, Tech finally got on the scoreboard with a Raven Richardson a three-run shot to left field bringing in Holley Gentsch and Kermitria Ward to put the Red Raiders up 3-2.
“It felt really good. I’ve been kinda in a slump the past two series up against OU and UT too,” Richardson said. “The first at bat I wasn’t waiting for my pitch, and then the second one, and then the third just saw it down — good things happen.”
In the fifth inning, Cydney Allen hit a RBI single to put Tech up 4-2. A batter later, Gentsch was walked to put Tech in bases loaded scenario. The final run for Tech came off Ward drawing a walk to bring in a runner.
Custer staved off the attempted Longhorn rally by striking out three straight batters in both the sixth and seventh inning. She finished the game with a total four strikeouts and lowered her ERA to 2.14.
“I think once we got more runs,” she said, “I just got more relaxed and more confident in myself in hitting my spots and my drop ball — I worked on it back there with Brittany (Talley) and I think that was the key.”
The Red Raiders look to use this win as momentum while preparing for the series against the No. 9 ranked Missouri, who also boast another top ranked pitcher in Chelsea Thomas.
“They’re all big wins of course,” Hays said, “and momentum is huge, for sure, in any sport. What I told these girls after the game is it’s a win; we should win these games and you try to stay away from the mentality like ‘Yippee, we beat Texas or OU.’ We try to have the mentality that we go and should have a chance to win every game.”