This was a painful victory for the Texas Longhorn softball team.
Texas pitcher Miranda Elish took a throw to the face in the second inning of the Longhorns’ 7-5 comeback victory over host Alabama at in Friday’s NCAA softball super regional game in Tuscaloosa. Elish was helped off the field and taken to a local hospital as a precaution.
Elish, a right-handed hurler, is “doing well and was taken to the ER,” a Texas spokesperson said, according to The Austin American-Statesman.
With a runner on first, Alabama’s Elissa Brown bunted Elish’s pitch off home plate. Catcher Mary Iakopo grabbed the ball with her bare hand and was already in motion to throw the ball to second base as the umpire called the ball dead and ruled Brown out for her foot being out of the batter’s box. Iakopo’s throw struck Elish in the face, and the pitcher dropped to the ground.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Miranda Elish,” White told WVUA 23. “She took that shot to the face, she’s going to be OK, we just have to run some more tests and see what happens from there but she was in good spirits and sent us a message straight away about the game. Obviously, nobody feels worse than Mary Iakopo but those things happen, it was a total accident and she came out and did it for her team.”
Despite the positive update, White told the TV station that Elish would not be available for Saturday’s decisive Game 3. The winner between Texas (46-16) and Alabama (56-8) will earn a trip to the Women’s College World Series.
The Longhorns said they were extra-motivated to win this one once their All-American candidate who had dominated the regionals and entered Friday’s game with an impressive 18-10 record and a 1.72 ERA.
“We definitely said that she was our motivation,” sophomore outfielder MK Tedder told The Austin American-Statesman. “We definitely took what happened to make sure that we were doing it for her.”
Shealyn O’Leary replaced Elish, who had pitched every inning of Texas’ four elimination games in the regionals, as the Longhorns rallied from a 4-0 deficit to extend their season.
Ironically, it was Iakopo who was the offensive hero for Texas.
The catcher belted a three-run home run in the bottom of the third inning to start the Longhorns’ rally, and in the fourth, with the game tied at four apiece, she reached on a throwing error on her bases-loaded grounder which brought in two Texas runs.