Freshman starting pitcher Madison Azua winds up for the pitch during the Bobcats game against UTSA. Azua struck out 12 batters in her first start with Texas State.
Daily Record photo by Gerald Castillo
Sara Vanderford crushes a three-run home run in the Bobcats game against Northwestern State.
Daily Record photo by Gerald Castillo
Bobcat pitchers roll in opening games of the Texas State Tournament
It was a day no one will forget at Bobcat Softball Stadium as Texas State defeated the UTSA Roadrunners 2-1 and the Northwestern State Demons 7-0 in the first two games of the Texas State Tournament.
The games earned their keep because of the performances of the Bobcat pitchers as freshman Madison Azua, in her first start as a Bobcat, threw seven innings while throwing 12 strikeouts and allowing just two hits, one run, zero walks and retiring 19 batters in a row against UTSA.
Then, against Northwestern State, the trio of Tori McCann, Karsen Pierce and Presley Glende threw a combined no hitter while allowing just one walk and retiring 16 batters in a row. Having both happen in one day made the performances all the more memorable.
“Obviously if you’ve got a pitching staff that gives up two hits on a day you’re probably going to win some ball games,” Head Coach Ricci Woodard said. “To be able to get a no-hitter in this last game and be able to take a senior out where she’s throwing a no-hitter just shows the kind of character of the kids I have. They don’t bat an eye, they’re unselfish, they want to win ball games. They understand the big picture. It’s going to be a fun season.”
The first inning was not what the Bobcats were hoping for against the arch rival Roadrunners as following a leadoff strikeout, UTSA got on base with a one out infield single.
UTSA then scored their first run of the game with a one out double into left field to put the Roadrunners up 1-0.
The Bobcats got out of the inning with two flyouts to end the scoring threat.
Despite a rough first inning while battling the nerves, Azua, with the help of her teammates, was able to put the inning behind her.
“[My first game] was a little nerve wracking,” Azua said. “But as the game went on I got over it and having my teammates behind my back really helped. Just knowing [that first inning] wasn’t the end of the world and talking to my teammates helped me a lot.”
Woodard was proud of the young freshman pitcher, especially after bouncing back after the first inning.
“The bigger thing was that when she gave up those two hits and one run, she reached back and went to work,” Woodard said. “Some of that was probably nerves with the ball not moving as well as you want it to do, but the way she rebounded from that tells you she is going to be a great pitcher in the future.”
The Bobcats were able to back up Azua in the bottom of the second inning when sophomore Katarina Zarate belted a one-out solo home run into left field for both the Bobcats first run of the game and first homer of the season to tie the game up at 1-1.
Senior third basemen Sara Vanderford started Texas State’s scoring opportunity in the bottom of the third hitting a one out single into right field.
Sophomore designated hitter Karmyn Bass brought Vanderford home with a one double while advancing to third on the throw to give the Bobcats their first lead of the game.
Riding the arm of Azua, Texas State took home their first win of the season over the arch rival Roadrunners 2-1.
Texas State then shifted their focus to one of their former conference rivals in Northwestern State.
While the Bobcat offense had their struggles against UTSA, Texas State had no problem getting back on track against the Demons.
Senior shortstop Hannah Earls started the first inning with a lead-off infield single before stealing second base to put the Bobcats in a scoring opportunity.
Junior Left fielder Ciara Trahan brought home Earls with an RBI single to give Texas State the lead at 1-0.
A two-out single by right fielder Anna Jones put runners on the corners before Jones stole second.
Vanderford broke the game wide open on the next at-bat smashing a three-run home run into left field as the Bobcats extended the lead to 4-0.
Texas State tacked on three more runs in the fifth inning kicked off with a RBI double by Bass.
Bass then scored on the next at-bat when senior first baseman J.J. Smith hammered another home run for the Bobcats to put Texas State up 7-0 before the ‘Cats defensive staff closed out the game.
Despite the slow offensive start against UTSA and consequent rebound against Northwestern State, Vanderford noted how the team will continue to improve on themselves.
“We said it before, just making sure we show up every day and play the same no matter who is in the other dugout,” Vanderford said. “Once we got the first game of the season under our belt, the second game looked more like us. We still need a few more hits here and there and fewer scoreless innings, but hopefully tomorrow we’ll show up better tomorrow. Overall, though, a pretty good first day.”
Texas State will continue play at the Texas State Tournament Friday through Sunday.
Saturday will see the Bobcats play Southern Illinois at 2:30 p.m. and Creighton at 4:45 p.m..
Texas State closes out the tournament on Sunday against Southern Illinois at 10 a.m.
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