LAFAYETTE, La. – Down to their final out of the season, sophomore Lindsey Stephens belted a three-run home run to propel No. 2-seed Texas to a 4-3 defeat of the No. 3-seed Mississippi State in an NCAA Lafayette Regional elimination game.
The Longhorns advance to the regional championship on Sunday, where they will face Louisiana-Lafayette.
Stephens led the offense by going 2-for-4 with two runs scored. The Big 12 Conference home run champion's 16th round-tripper of the season got the Longhorns saved their season. The top of the Texas lineup accounted for four of the Longhorns six hits.
Junior Gabby Smith started her first career postseason game in the circle and picked up her 14th win of the season. Smith, a Houston native, struck out eight en route to her ninth complete game of the season. Smith gave up four hits, two walks and two earned runs in the contest. At the plate, Smith added an RBI to help her cause.
Mississippi State scored single runs in the first and fourth innings. In the opening frame, Julia Echols led off the inning with a double. She scored on a throwing error by Davis to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead. MSU added another in the fourth on a lead-off home run by Logan Foulks.
Texas closed the gap to 2-1 by manufacturing a run in the top of the sixth. Stephens knocked a base hit to right field to start off the inning. After senior Taylor Thom walked, sophomore Devon Tunning advanced the runners on a sacrifice bunt. Smith's sacrifice fly to left field scored Stephens for UT's first run of the game.
Mississippi State matched the Texas run in the bottom of the sixth. With two outs, Smith hit Katie Anne Bailey. Sam Lenahan hit a double down the left-field line to score Bailey and push the Bulldogs lead to 3-1.
Stephens' heroics were set up with two outs by sophomore Stephanie Ceo and senior Brejae Washington. On a 0-1 count, Ceo dropped a ball in between two fielders in no-man's land out in right-center field for a base hit to bring the tying run to the plate. Washington, UT's all-time hits leader, slapped a single up the middle to put two on for Stephens. The Stephens home run was the first walk-off home run for Texas in regional play.