Winning streak puts softball in SCAC top three

Victoria Nelson, Contributing Writer

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Senior shortstop Erin Begle takes the plate for the Crusaders. University of Dallas photo.

It was a sunny Friday afternoon, and the University of Dallas softball team was already riding a three-game winning streak when junior outfielder Bailey DiStefano remarked to a fellow Philosophy of Being student:

“We’re doing really good, and we’re going to be doing even better after this weekend.”

Her confident words proved absolutely true. Over the course of the next two days, UD would sweep two doubleheaders against Austin College, totaling 36 runs to Austin’s seven, and breaking .500 for the first time in a month.

The four victories, which took place on Austin’s home field, came directly on the heels of the previous weekend’s success against Southwestern University, when the Crusaders came back from a 1-7 loss in Game One to triumph in the remaining three games. This run followed a 7-5 victory over University of Texas at Dallas (UTD), the first win against UTD in program history.

When asked what has driven the team’s recent success, junior outfielder and captain Lyda Tesauro credited a solid lineup and good team chemistry.

“We all have a common goal,” Tesauro said. “We all want to make it to the conference championship, and we all want to win it. We used to talk about the ‘seventh inning crisis,’ where we would have a game won and then lose it at the last minute. Now we have the ability to take games we have won and finish them.”

Multiple players had standout performances over the course of the weekend. Senior shortstop Erin Begle ended her career-long nine game hit streak in Game One on Saturday, before cracking one of six doubles accumulated by the Lady Crusaders in Game Two.

On Sunday, she scored a home run and was batted in twice more, as well as getting three RBIs to gain credit for her role in five of Dallas’ 15 points in Game One. She also rounded out her weekend with two hits in the second game of the series.

Begle has been recognized in the past weeks by both the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) and the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) as an Offensive Player of the Week and a Softball Player of the Week, respsectively.

“[Erin] is a dedicated ball player,” Tesauro said. “She puts in a lot of work and she’s a good person on and off the field. You know, a lot of the people who get these awards aren’t team players, but she is, and I really respect that. If anyone deserved it she did.”

Also honored by the SCAC and USCAA as a Player of the Week was junior pitcher Katie Lee, who was credited with wins in two of the four Austin College games. Tesauro had nothing but the highest praise for her teammate and fellow junior.

“Katie puts in a lot of time off the field,” Tesauro said. “Since freshman year she’s been a good pitcher, and it’s good to see her finally getting the benefits of her hard work. We wouldn’t be where we are today without a strong pitcher. She keeps us in there.”

Other highlights for the weekend included eight stolen bases in Game One on Saturday and triples for junior outfielder Avery Finch and freshman outfielder Roma Thornton.

Finch also brought her steal count up to 25 stolen bases with two steals in Sunday’s first game.

In Game Two, freshman catcher and third baseman Sukie Turner gained her first collegiate home run with a ball to center field in the seventh inning.

Overall, UD improved to a 16-14 record, with an 11-5 record in conference, bumping them up to third place in the SCAC standings.

The Lady Crusaders will complete conference play at home with two doubleheaders on Friday and Saturday against Texas Lutheran University — currently ranked number one in the SCAC. Saturday will also mark the team’s Senior Day, where they will celebrate Begle, DiStefano and first baseman Ciara Stewart between games.

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