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The Texas State softball team rushes to home plate to congratulate teammate Christiana McDowell for hitting a home run in the sixth inning against Saint Louis, Friday, Feb. 14, 2020, at Bobcat Softball Stadium. Photo credit: Kate Connors

In the first homestand for Texas State softball this season, the Bobcats came out on top, sweeping their own Bobcat Classic over the weekend, raising their record to 7-2.

The Bobcats faced Wichita State on Sunday to finish the tournament, nearly shutting them out with a 9-1 victory after beating them in the second leg of their doubleheader Saturday.

Wichita State kicked off the game by letting a fly ball from senior infeilder Hailey MacKay drop in centerfield, allowing junior infielder Tara Oltmann to cross the plate first for a 1-0 Bobcat lead. As the Bobcat bats warmed up, junior infielder ArieAnn Bell hit a two-run homer to increase the lead to 3-0 in the first inning.

The ‘Cats gained more offensive momentum in the bottom of the fifth inning, cracking four runs to extend the lead even further.

Senior pitcher Dalilah Barrera took the mound in the gam and kept a no-hitter intact through the fifth inning before giving up a single and a run.

Before the Shockers could gain momentum, Oltmann finished the game in the same inning with a home run of her own, ending the game early and clinching the win for the Bobcats.

The win came after another victory over the Shockers on Saturday afternoon. Both teams led into the game as the only undefeated teams left in the Classic, with the Bobcats ultimately winning it in a 5-3 victory.

The Bobcats took an early lead, with senior infielder Bailee Carter scoring the first two runs: first off a MacKay single up the middle in the first inning, then again on an Oltmann sacrifice fly in the third for a 2-0 Bobcat lead.

The ‘Cats added another run in the bottom of the fifth when senior outfielder Christiana McDowell stole home from second on a wild pitch.

The Shockers stayed in the game on Texas State errors, scoring three runs on walks to switch the lead for the first time. The lead did not last long, however, as Bell hit a leadoff home run in the bottom of the sixth.

Bell said that consistency and bringing enthusiasm to the team is key to staying successful.

“It’s awesome; I like pumping up my team and getting them excited,” Bell said. “I think we just need to keep doing what we’ve been doing. One pitch at a time, staying relaxed and staying loose.”

Freshman pitcher Tori McCann kept the Shockers scoreless in the last inning to finish out the game and give her and the team the win.

The Bobcats took in another win prior to the Wichita State victory on Saturday, blanking St. Louis out 12-0 to start the doubleheader and winning 4-1 on Friday.

The ‘Cats run-ruled the Billikens in five innings on Saturday under the leadership of junior pitcher Meagan King, who brought in her second win of the season by allowing just two hits and holding St. Louis to five scoreless innings.

Four total home runs came off Texas State bats, with three coming in the third inning.

On the other hand, Saint Louis struggled with two errors that cost the team nine unearned runs.

Oltmann kept up her hot hand with a grand slam in the third inning, helping the ‘Cats bring in the most runs in an inning this season with 11 total runs.

Oltmann also recorded five RBIs while McCann racked up RBIs as well after her three-run home run in the third.

Bell said the team is energized about their offense and is doing well on the batting end so far this season.

“We have been doing well,” Bell said. “We work on hitting a lot, so it’s just nice to see everyone come through and get so excited about hitting.”

The win came after a 4-1 comeback win against the Billikens on Friday. Despite being behind 1-0 for three innings, the ‘Cats rallied back, securing the win with a three-run sixth inning that saw a two-run home run from McDowell.

The Bobcats kicked off their tournament on Thursday by holding off the UTSA Roadrunners in a heart racing 4-3 victory. The game featured five pitchers, three ties, three lead changes and a game-winning hit by Oltmann to give the Bobcats their first home win of the season.

The ‘Cats jumped out to a lead early on a MacKay single that scored McDowell.

After the Roadrunners tied in the top of the third, the Bobcats were able to regain the lead in the bottom of the fourth, but UTSA answered back in the fifth with two home runs off Megan King to take a 3-2 lead.

With runners on second and third, Oltmann ultimately won the game again with a walkoff RBI single to right field to take the win.

Oltmann said that getting the game-winning hit helped her confidence at the plate.

“(Hitting the walk off) was pretty exciting,” Oltmann said. “I mean, it’s always good to come through in those situations because we play a game of failure, so coming through was just really such a confidence booster.”

Next up for the Bobcats are big-name competitors including Illinois, Baylor, Tulsa and Minnesota. Oltmann said the team has faced competition already in the NFCA Leadoff Classic and will take it on one step at a time.

“I think we’re going to see good competition, just like we did in Florida,” Oltmann said. “I think we’re going to need to play one pitch at a time. The pitchers are going to be better. I think we just need to trust the process and continue to work every at-bat, even if the first one doesn’t go our way.”

Texas State softball will head up Interstate-35 to Waco for the Baylor Classic starting Friday.

Sports editor Claire Partain contributed to this story.

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