CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – On the strength of a career-high 11-strikeout effort from freshman pitcher Erica Wright, Texas (15-8) wrapped up its stay at the Carolina Classic on Saturday morning at Anderson Softball Stadium with a 5-0 victory over Charlotte.
At the dish sophomore hurler Tiarra Davis went 1-for-1 with two RBIs, junior center fielder Lindsey Stephens was 2-for-3 with a double and a RBI, junior second baseman Stephanie Ceo was 2-for-3 with a run scored and a RBI, senior right fielder Marlee Gabaldon was 1-for-3 with a run, a two-bagger and a RBI and freshman third baseman Randel Leahy (1-for-2) contributed her first career triple in the win.
Former Huntington Lady Devil Wright improved to 6-4 overall, allowing just two hits, walking four and striking out the career-best 11 over 6.0 innings of work.
After Charlotte missed a chance by stranding a pair in the top of the first, Texas took immediate advantage via nabbing a quick lead in the bottom half. Sophomore shortstop Devon Tunning and sophomore left fielder Stephanie Wong got things started for the Horns with consecutive base hits starting the frame. With a pair of UT runners stationed in scoring position and two outs via ground balls, 49er starter Lexi Betancourt came close to escaping the jam. Sophomore Tiarra Davis made them pay, however, by driving a two-RBI single up the middle for a 2-0 lead.
Texas threatened again in the bottom of the second as Leahy blasted her first career triple to right, just missing a one-out HR by inches. Unfortunately for the Horns, consecutive ground balls left the Norco, Calif., product stranded just 60 feet from pay dirt.
Hanzel got another Texas scoring flurry underway in the bottom of the fourth by opening the frame with a walk and stolen base. With the Houston, Texas, native standing at second, Gabaldon drove a double to the wall in center as Hanzel easily crossed for a three-run lead. After a wild pitch moved the runner to third, Ceo delivered a RBI base knock of her own to make it 4-0. Stephens stepped to the dish with a pair in scoring position and hit a sharp roller to second that forced Charlotte second baseman Haley Pace to dive to her right. The 49er fielder made the stop, but a throw from her knees proved too late to catch a hustling Stephens as Ceo scored from third for a five-run advantage.
Charlotte refused to quit, however, as the 49ers got a Hayley Lewis single and a Pace walk to christen its best offensive opportunity in the fifth. A Texas error on a chopper promptly loaded the bags with still no one retired. Wright proved up to the daunting task, however, inducing pop-ups to short by catcher Jackie Kleinsmith and center fielder Jessica Plemmons before striking out third baseman Chelsea Lisikatos for the rookie hurler's seventh and biggest K of the match-up.
From there, the 49ers could manage only a sixth inning walk off Wright but nothing else as UT's reliever struck out the side in the final frame to finish with a career-best K total.