Entering this weekend’s series the Texas State Bobcats sat two games behind the Troy Trojans in the Sun Belt Conference standings. The Bobcats were coming off a home loss against the visiting Houston Cougars in which they blew a three run lead, but were focused on their new opponent in games that had more weight toward conference seeding.
The weekend started on a slow note. The Bobcats’ only loss of the series came as a 3-0 Troy victory on Friday evening in game one. The ‘Cats mustered only three hits for the entire game, and left runners on base in six out of the seven innings played.
Sophomore pitcher Megan King took her eleventh loss of the season in this game, despite keeping it within striking distance for the offense. King gave up an RBI double in the top of the second inning, and then a two-run homer in the top of third before shutting down the rest of the Trojan hitting core. She earned the loss for the game and went the full seven innings, giving up three earned runs, walking three batters, and striking out three.
The Bobcats only reached base in seven of their 23 at-bats, but sophomore infielder ArieAnn Bell pushed her on-base streak to 21 games with a single in the bottom of the sixth inning. The stretch is the longest for the Bobcats this season.
Overall, the Bobcats missed opportunities to capitalize on offense, because of Trojan pitcher Leanna Johnson’s outstanding performance on the circle. Johnson earned the win in her shutout performance.
After dropping game one of this crucial series, the Bobcats went to sleep with redemption on their mind. Texas State had to find a way to muster up some confidence after being shut out the game before. Would the Bobcats answer to the Trojans sword or would they come back and make a statement on their home field? The answer was clear after the first inning was over. It all started in the when Bell rung a ball down the left field line leading two of her teammates home for the first time in the series. After only being allowed three hits in the previous game, the Bobcats collected nine the next, including a bottom of the fifth home run from Tara Oltmann that demoralized the confidence of the Trojans. Nine Hits, nine runs racked up giving Texas State their fourteenth win in conference play 9-0.
Starting in the circle for the Bobcats was Dalilah Barrera (8-4), who had a tough matchup going up against the fourth ranked hitting team in the Sun Belt. Barrera held her own with an abundance of final out strikeouts. The junior allowed no runs and two hits in her four innings of work. After a couple of solid innings, Cat Osterman sent out pitching ace; King. Going for the save, King came in to keep the Trojan hitters on their heels as they weren’t able to put the ball in play against her. The Mont Belvieu native threw two innings keeping the Trojans stuck in the routine of heading back to the dugout. This save was the first of the young sophomore’s career.
On the offensive side of things, all five batters in the top of the lineup for the Bobcats were able to make contact with the ball. Hailey MacKay and Bell both had three RBI games. Mari Cranek went two-for-three bringing in a run and crossing the plate two times herself. Lastly, Tara Oltmann finished one-for-two and finished with a team high three runs on the day.
With a win here, the series is now knotted 1-1.7 out of 13 times the maroon and gold has won the game versus the Trojans, it has come by the result of a shutout. In the final home game of the regular season, the Cats’ will look close out this important series in game three, which will take place tomorrow at noon on Bobcat Softball Stadium.
On Sunday, three ‘Cats were celebrated in their final regular season home series at Bobcat softball Stadium. It was senior day, so each of the three seniors were honored before and after the game and included in the starting lineup. Senior Krista Jacobs got a start on the mound, Cranek got the start in left field and Kennedy Cline got the start in right field.
The scoring was quiet in the game while the pitching and defense got to work. Jacobs pitched two smooth innings before getting into a jam in the third inning. Jacobs allowed back to back two-out singles which prompted head coach Ricci Woodard to bring in King to relieve. On a 2-2 count to her first batter, King forced the Trojan batter to fly out which ended the jam. Jacobs finished her outing with 2.2 innings, three hits allowed and a strikeout.
In the bottom of the fifth, junior Haleigh Davis broke open the scoring with a solo home-run to left field. The ball might’ve been caught by Troy left fielder Talia Truitt, however, the ball bounced out of her extended glove and right over the fence. In the sixth inning, MacKay found her way into the scorecard with an RBI single that extended the lead to two.
The final score finished at 2-0 in favor of the Bobcats. King dominated in her relief appearance retiring 12 of the 13 batters she faced keeping the Trojans at bay. She recorded the win, improving her record to 17-11 on the year. Trojan freshman Leanna Johnson recorded the loss despite throwing six really good innings. She goes to 24-7.
The series win against Troy moves Texas State a game behind them in the standings and half a game ahead of UTA, another hot contender in the Sun Belt. Texas State heads to Arlington next weekend to face UTA in the final regular season conference series. Every game in that series will have high stakes that will determine seeding in the conference tournament.
Texas State and San Marcos will be hosting the Sun Belt Conference Tournament starting May 8. The Bobcats won’t have a weekday game this week, so their next game will be in Arlington at 5 p.m. on Thursday evening against the Mavericks.
Featured image by DeShaun Hartley.