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Miranda Elish Pitches Texas Into Super Regionals

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(Photo Courtesy of Texas Athletics)

AUSTIN – The University of Texas (45-15) needed to win four straight games in order to win the Austin Regional after dropping the first game to Sam Houston State on Friday.

Not only did they do that, they did it with just one pitcher in the circle.

Junior right-handed pitcher Miranda Elish (18-9) threw 429 pitches over 29 innings for the Longhorns, securing a win in all four games – including twice over the University of Houston (39-19) on Sunday - and launching Texas into the Super Regional against Alabama.

“No, I’m ready for Alabama,” Elish said after the game when asked if she was tired. “I just wanted to do it for my teammates. They had my back the entire weekend, making great plays and getting just enough runs. I just wanted to have their back and pick them up and not make them feel pressure. I wanted to hold Houston to no runs and (Texas batters) just freaking unloaded on the ball tonight. They did so good.”

“I told her she had a bullpen tomorrow,” Texas coach Mike White joked after the game. “We’ve been cognizant about overworking our number one the whole year. You don’t want to do that so that when comes down to end of the year, they are fresh enough to do this. We may pay the price next week. I hope not. I don’t think so. I think she’s getting stronger. A couple days rest, she’ll be coming back strong.”

After picking up a wins on Saturday over rival Texas A&M and a rematch over Sam Houston State, Texas found themselves in an elimination game for the first bout with Houston on Sunday afternoon.

The Cougars got on the board first with an RBI single in the second but the Longhorns exploded in the fifth, scoring all five of their runs in the inning. The Cougars added another run before losing 5-2. Elish allowed nine hits while striking out five with two earned runs.

An immediate rematch followed with Elish still in the circle. In game two, the Longhorns had three hits and slim 1-0 lead heading into the final inning. Texas’ bats came alive in the seventh, scoring six runs on seven hits, starting with an RBI single from Kaitlyn Washington, who scored the Longhorn’s only run up to that point with a solo homer over centerfield.

“I was just looking for a good pitch to barrel up,” Washington said of the homer. “It was kind of right there. (The pitcher) was kind of throwing drop balls my last at-bat before I was on top of the ball. She threw it right there and I got under it.”

After Washington gave Texas a 2-0 lead, Elish pinch-hit a two-RBI double to extend the lead to 4-0. An RBI sac-fly by Janae Jefferson and a two-RBI single from Mary Iakopo cemented the final score for the Longhorns, 7-0.

“For (Texas), I think it was confidence and something finally clicked mentally,” Houston coach Kristin Vesely said. “Can’t really know what’s going on in there minds. For us, there were chances in the game, both games. We’re only in control of what we can control. I don’t know if the strike zone changed, I don’t know if (Texas was) starting to look for a different pitch. I think we came out of it well. It was good to get some freshman some postseason experience. There is a silver lining in that kind of inning.”

The season is over Houston as Texas advances to the Super Regional in Tuscaloosa to take on Alabama (55-7). It is the first time since 2013 Texas advanced to the Super Regional, while this year marks the 15th consecutive season Alabama has made it at least that far.

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