Texas Softball Suffers Heartbreaking First Loss of the Season to Stanford

Texas softball battled back from its first deficit of the season Saturday night in Austin but was unable to secure the lead and fend off a top-15 Stanford Cardinal team.
Teammates cheer for Texas infielder Joley Mitchell (9) after she scored a home run as the Longhorns
Teammates cheer for Texas infielder Joley Mitchell (9) after she scored a home run as the Longhorns / Mikala Compton/American-Statesman / USA

The No. 2 ranked Texas Longhorns (11-1, 0-0 Big 12) winning streak came to an end on Saturday night as they fell to the No. 12 ranked Stanford Cardinal (9-4, 0-0 Pac 12) 4-3 on Red & Charline McCombs Field.

Stanford starting pitcher NiJaree Canady proved why she was the National Freshman of the Year in 2023, pitching a complete game and notching 11 strikeouts.

Both teams entered this matchup with a perfect 3-0 mark in the Lone Star State Invitational. Texas had outscored its opponents 21-0; Stanford, 18-3. These teams squared off just over a week ago at the Shriners Children's Clearwater Invitational, with the Horns besting the Cardinal 9-2.

Stanford seemed motivated to avenge that loss and hand Texas softball its first loss of the season.

The Cardinal jumped on the Longhorns in the top of the first to the tune of two runs. That said, the two runs were more due to miscues from the Horns rather than offensive prowess from Stanford.

Texas starter Citlaly Gutierrez (2-0 0.50 ERA) did not give up a hit in the first. However, she surrendered a hit-by-pitch, walk, and a wild pitch that put pressure on the Longhorn defense. Gutierez was able to get out of the jam and limit the damage, but this was the first time Texas softball had trailed all season.

The Horns immediately slashed Stanford's lead in half due to a two-out error by first baseman Ava Gall. Heads-up baserunning from Bella Dayton allowed her to score on a play where the ball did not leave the infield.

Both teams went down quietly in the second, but Stanford was able to tack onto their lead in the third via a double down the right-field line from Caelan Koch. Texas quickly responded in the bottom half of the inning.

Dayton led off the inning with an infield single and was plated three batters later when Reese Atwood smashed her ninth home run of the season over the left-center wall.

Atwood has been absolutely scorching this weekend. The Sandia (TX) native has four HRs and seven RBI in her last three games.

Neither team could get much of anything going during innings four through six. Texas had three hits in those three innings; Stanford managed just one.

In the bottom of the seventh, knotted at three, Texas sent the top of the order to the plate, looking to keep their undefeated season alive.

Dayton reached on a leadoff bunt single and advanced to second on the same play after an errant throw from Stanford third baseman Jade Berry. Mia Scott looked to sacrifice Dayton over to third, but popped up a bunt to the pitcher. Just one pitch later, Dayotn was ruled out for leaving second base before the ball left the pitcher's hand.

The Horns went from a runner on second and no outs to no one on and two outs within a matter of seconds.

In college softball, each team begins extra innings with a runner on second base. In the top of the eighth, Stanford's River Mahler advanced to third on a passed ball and scored two pitches later on Dani Hayes' sac fly to left.

The Cardinal backed that up with back-to-back singles, knocking Texas pitcher Estelle Czech out of the game. However, freshman Teagan Kavan relieved her and stranded the two runners, keeping the deficit at just one for the Horns.

Texas began the bottom of the eighth with Katie Stewart on second base and Reese Atwood at the ball. Atwood went down on three pitches, followed by another strikeout from Joley Mitchell. Vivi Martinez popped out to short to end the game.

Important Game Notes:

  • Texas out-hit Stanford 6-4.
  • 11 strikeouts and three errors were both season worsts from the Horns.
  • 6-7-8-9 hitters reached base just once in 13 plate appearances.
  • Ashton Maloney made a Sportscenter Top Ten play in right field.

Texas and Stanford wrap up the Lone Star State Invitational on Sunday with one game each. The Cardinal take on Colorado State (10 a.m. CT, LHN), followed by the Horns squaring off against Louisiana (12:30 p.m. CT, LHN). The Longhorns look to improve to 12-1 before a midweek trip to San Marcos next week.