Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.
Article Image Alt Text
Article Image Alt Text

Above, The Bobcats celebrate beating Louisiana for the conference tournament championship. Texas State won their first Sun Belt Tournament Title since 2018. Below, J.J. Smith connects with a two-run home run to extend the Bobcat lead to 8-4 in the top of the fifth inning. Smith would later be named to the All-Tournament team.
Daily Record photos by Gerald Castillo

Article Image Alt Text

Bobcats hoist up the Sun Belt Conference Trophy after defeating Louisiana in the championship game. Texas State also clinched the automatic bid for the NCAA Tournament to secure the program’s 12 postseason bid.
Daily Record photo by Gerald Castillo

Article Image Alt Text

Head Coach Ricci Woodard receives the Gatorade bath following the Bobcats win over Louisiana.
Daily Record Photo by Gerald Castillo


Bobcat softball wins conference, heading to NCAA tournament
Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Bobcat softball wins conference, heading to NCAA tournament

The stars had aligned for a special season at Texas State and the Bobcats were more than ready for the challenge. Needless to say, the Bobcats passed with flying colors.

Behind a three RBI performance from first baseman J.J. Smith, Texas State defeated their longtime nemesis the Louisiana Ragin Cajuns 9-5 to bring home the Bobcats first conference tournament title since 2018.

Celebrating in front of their own home crowd during graduation, which many of the seniors missed, Texas State and Head Coach Ricci Woodard are back in the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive year.

“We had been throwing punches and getting punched back,” Woodard said. “Today was going to be one of those days. In that case, you have to go one pitch at a time. Even [Jessica] Mullins during the sixth inning said ‘Alright one pitch at a time’. That is when the stress hits and you start worrying about counts. I thought we did a really good job of continuing to battle and work one pitch at a time.”

It didn’t take long for the Bobcats to jump on the board, but they also knew that Louisiana, who has won four straight conference championship tournaments, wasn’t going down without a fight. It also helped Texas State as they were able to capitalize on two Louisiana errors to load up bases.

In the top of the first, right fielder Anna Jones scored the first run of the game hitting an RBI single into center field, putting the Bobcats up 1-0. Center fielder Piper Randolph tacked on another run, hitting a sacrifice fly to extend the lead 2-0.

Texas State then capitalized on Louisiana’s third error of the inning. An infield single by catcher Karmyn Bass was not fielded cleanly by the Cajun infield allowing Bass to reach base safely while another run scored to make it 3-0.

Despite being down 3-0, Louisiana has championship experience. The Cajuns responded with a two-run RBI single in the bottom of the first. In the bottom of the third inning, they added a tworun RBI triple to take back the lead at 4-3.

As the Bobcats trailed going into the top of the fourth inning, third baseman Sara Vanderford knew the team had to keep up being the aggressor.

“You saw it when they put up two runs in two different innings, and then we were down all of sudden,” Vanderford said. “They take what you give them and run with it. So keeping our aggressive mindset and being the aggressors while not waiting back on our heels put us in a position to win that game.”

Bass reached base following catcher’s interference followed by an infield single by left fielder Sidney Harvey.

Shortstop Hannah Earls loaded up the bases with a bunt single, as Texas State looked to retake the lead.

Designated player Emilee Baker took back the lead for the Bobcats, hitting an RBI single and keeping the bases loaded.

Vanderford hit a sac fly deep into center field to score Harvey, pushing the lead to 5-3.

Jones tacked on the final run of the game with an RBI single before the Cajuns got the final out at the plate, making it a 6-4 game.

Keeping Louisiana off the scoreboard, Texas State looked to add on to their lead.

Randolph started the inning with a leadoff single to bring up Smith at the plate as Louisiana opted to switch pitchers going from Chloe Riassetto to Sam Landry, who started the game.

With one swing of the bat, Smith connected with a two-run home run over the wall in left field.

“I knew she wanted to get ahead of me [in the count],” Smith said. “The last couple of at-bats a couple of weeks ago, she pretty much owned me. I knew if she was trying to get ahead of me, I had to be first pitch swinging.”

Louisiana tacked on another run only for Smith to hit an RBI single to make the score 9-5.

In the bottom of the seventh, with Louisiana trying to stage a late comeback, Texas State slammed the door shut.

The Bobcats got the final three outs before rushing their field to celebrate winning the first tournament championship since 2018.

Smith, Vanderford and starting pitcher Jessica Mullins were named to the All-Tournament team with Vanderford winning the Most Outstanding Player award for the tournament.

Even though Vanderford was unable to walk at her own graduation, the moment was more than worth it.

“You couldn’t ask for anything better,” Vanderford said. “I said two weeks ago that I wasn’t buying a cap and gown, because we were going to be in this spot. To actually say it, for it to happen and have a team of 22 girls who actually buy into that while having your back no matter what, is huge. It’s special and that is why this team is the way we are.” Twitter: @ColtonBMc

San Marcos Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666