TYLER, TEXAS – #1 UT Tyler scored a combined 11 runs in their final two trips to the plate in 6-2 and 8-4 wins over #15 Oklahoma Christian to jump two games ahead in the Lone Star Conference regular-season standings on Friday night.
The Patriots entered their final trip to the plate in the bottom of the sixth inning of game one tied at 2-2 and scored four runs, and then turned around and answered a 4-1 deficit entering the same frame in game number two with seven runs to move to 36-4 on the year and 22-4 in Lone Star Conference play. UT Tyler now sits two games clear of Lubbock Christian, Oklahoma Christian and Texas A&M-Commerce in the LSC standings with that record after entering the night tied with Oklahoma Christian in first place.
Senior Ashley Perez put an exclamation point on the two wins with her UT Tyler softball record 41st homerun of her career in the bottom of the sixth inning of game number two, and finished the evening 4-for-7 at the plate with a pair of RBI and runs scored. Sophomore Audrey Escamilla hit a pinch-hit three-run homer to break the 2-2 tie in the sixth in game one, and finished her day at the plate 2-for-4 with five RBI.
The homer from Perez eclipsed current associate head coach Whitney Wyly‘s previous career record mark of 40 for her career, and gives the Pflugerville, Texas product eight homers on the year.
Sophomore Tatum Goff went 7.0 complete innings and struckout eight Oklahoma Christian batters in game number one to collect the win. Senior Bayli Simon and sophomore Courtney Plocheck led off the battle between LSC frontrunners with a pair of singles, allowing Simon to eventually come around and score on a wild pitch by Oklahoma Christian to make it 1-0.
UT Tyler doubled that lead in the bottom of the third on a sacrifice bunt courtesy of senior Mak Dominguez that scored Plocheck from third after the Deer Park, Texas native led off the frame with one of her four singles in the ballgame. Oklahoma Christian knotted the game up at 2-2 with a pair of runs in the fifth, before Plocheck once again got the inning started for the Patriots in the magic sixth inning with a leadoff single.
Perez followed suit with a single of her own to put a pair of runners on, setting the stage for Escamilla to come on for the pinch-hit and change the tide of the game with a three-run homer to centerfield that scored Plocheck and Perez. Sophomore Amanda Marek added the fourth run of the frame on another sacrifice bunt that scored Dominguez, making it 6-2 in favor of the Patriots.
Goff retired the final three batters she faced in the seventh after working through a runners on second and third jam in the sixth by forcing an inning-ending double play to keep the game tied prior to the four runs for UT Tyler in the sixth. Goff’s victory moves her overall record to 6-3 on the year.
Plocheck finished game one a perfect 4-for-4, and served as one of two Patriots with a multi-hit effort alongside Goff, who went 2-for-3.
Oklahoma Christian got off to a quick start of their own in game two with a pair of homers, a solo shot in the first inning and a three-run homer in the third to open up what would be a 4-1 lead following three innings of play. Senior Shannon Klaus drove in sophomore Hanna Fradkin in the bottom of the second for the lone Patriot run over that stretch on an RBI single to right.
UT Tyler stranded runners on base in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings without cutting into the Eagle lead, but benefitted from a shutdown relief performance by senior Sarah Gartman in the circle. Gartman came on in the bottom of the third and allowed just a single hit to Oklahoma Christian from that point forward, retiring 14 of the 16 batters she faced for the rest of the ballgame.
Escamilla once again came up in a big spot for UT Tyler in the sixth inning with a two-RBI double that made it just a one-run ballgame at 4-3. A Patriot offense that ended up with double-digit hit totals in both contests kept runners moving, and ultimately took the lead on a bases-clearing double by Plocheck to make it 6-4.
Perez provided the emphatic finish to the night with a no-doubt homer on the ensuing at bat that scored Plocheck, made it 8-4, and etched the standout on top of yet another UT Tyler softball program record. Perez completed game two 3-for-4 following that homer, joining Dominguez and Klaus with multi-hit efforts.
Gartman secured her eighth win of 2022 to remain unbeaten on the year following her 4.1 innings of work in the circle.
UT Tyler will continue their stretch of three home doubleheaders to close out the 2022 season on Sunday afternoon with a 1 p.m. meeting against Cameron.