Roadrunners upset No. 15 Texas on Wednesday night, 4-2
AUSTIN — Megan Low and Tess Soefje each finished with two RBIs, while pitcher Nicole Merrill allowed just two unearned runs, as UTSA improved to 4-0 and tied the best start in program history with a 4-2 victory at No. 15 Texas on Wednesday night.
The win snapped a nine-game losing streak against the Longhorns (4-3), and tied the 1996 and 1999 squads for the program’s best start. It also was the Roadrunners’ first victory over Texas since 2008 and their first over a ranked squad since an 11-10 victory against No. 24 Illinois to open the 2011 season.
“That was a fun game to be a part of,” said head coach Michelle Cheatham, who became the second UTSA skipper to open her tenure with four consecutive wins. “Our team came out and just played fearless against a great team and I’m very proud of them. Hopefully, we can use this as a springboard for the rest of our season.”
Low led the offense with a 2-for-3 night at the plate, which included her fourth home run in as many games. Meanwhile, Jolene Graham, Madison Kinley, Siera Sproul and Soefje each contributed a hit.
Merrill worked in and out of jams all night, as Texas was able to score just two unearned runs despite loading the bases in five innings. The Round Rock native allowed six hits and walked seven but buckled down when needed. In all, the Longhorns stranded 16 runners and went 0-for-14 with runners in scoring position.
“Nicole was spot-on and she attacked their hitters just like we had planned,” Cheatham said. “She was nailing every pitch and threw it right where we had called. It was awesome to see a freshman carry a game like that.”
Texas got on the board first and scored its only runs of the game in the second inning with the help of three UTSA errors.
Holly Kern led off the panel with a single to left before two errors and a hit batter gave the home squad a 1-0 lead. Following a fielder’s choice, the Longhorns lead pushed to 2-0 on the Roadrunners’ third blunder of the frame.
Merrill danced around trouble in the third and fourth, as Texas loaded the bases in both innings only to see the freshman retire the side.
UTSA took advantage and sliced the deficit in half in the top of the fourth with a run. Kinley reached base with a double down the left field line and came around to score on Soefje’s two-out hit to right center.
The Roadrunners then grabbed the lead for good in the fifth on Low’s two-run blast off Gabby Smith. Alexis Ramirez coaxed a one-out walk on 11 pitches to set the table for the reigning Conference USA Player of the Week, who crushed her fourth homer of the season to left field.
An inning later, Graham dropped a one-out triple over the head of Smith, who had moved out to right field after being lifted for Tiarra Davis in the circle. Soefje then followed with a deep fly ball to center and Graham was able to trot home for the 4-2 lead.
After the fourth, Merrill did not allow a hit until the bottom of the seventh when Texas threatened one final time. A leadoff single, an error and a walk loaded the bases with two outs, but Merrill got power-hitting Lindsey Stephens to fly out to center to preserve the victory.
The Roadrunners return home for this weekend’s UTSA Classic where they will open play at 4:30 p.m. on Friday against Oklahoma State (2-3).