Everything’s bigger in Texas, including Duke’s wins.
The Blue Devils return from a weekend in Austin, Tex., with their first-ever victory against a ranked team after handing No. 4 Texas its first loss of the season. The 1-0 win put an exclamation point on an explosive start to the season for Duke and is a milestone win in the young program’s history.
“As a senior, to see how far we’ve come…. A year or two ago we weren’t in these games,” senior Raine Wilson told GoDuke.com. “So to go out and win was unreal.”
The Blue Devils (12-2) have been leaning on their bats to start the season, putting up scores that sometimes look more like a lopsided football game than softball, but had yet to face a test against a ranked team until this weekend.
After a rough start Friday with a loss to 2-0 loss to Lipscomb (6-4), Duke found its offensive rhythm again with a 9-1 thumping of Weber State (4-8) in five innings. Then it handed North Dakota State (5-8) a 3-0 loss Saturday afternoon. That left only unbeaten Texas in the way.
And late Saturday night, the Blue Devils earned the 1-0 win behind a fourth-inning single from sophomore Caroline Jacobsen. But it was redshirt junior catcher Jazmine Moreno who caught a Longhorn trying to steal second that served as the final out of the historic victory.
Then the Blue Devils were all running into a jumping, celebratory huddle: a team that has shown sparks of incredible potential secured a marquee win.
Duke went down to Texas following a convincing 15-7 weekday home win against Campbell last Wednesday, tallying 16 hits that included a home run by Jacobsen and a 10-run spurt in the 5th inning.
Then, the Blue Devils packed up and headed to Austin for a slate of contests Friday and Saturday to take part in the Texas Invitational.
For Duke’s offensive-focused team, the first game was quiet. The Blue Devils notched seven hits, but failed to get a runner across home plate. Lipscomb scored two runs in the fifth inning en route to its 2-0 win.
Later that night, Duke regained its offensive footing against Weber State, while sophomore pitcher Shelby Walters held the Wildcats to one run across the five innings it took the Blue Devils to finish off the run-rule victory. Sophomore infielder Deja Davis scored three times for the Blue Devils, with Wilson and junior first basemen Rachel Crabtree each batting in a pair of runs as Duke won 9-1.
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On Saturday, Duke kicked off the afternoon against North Dakota State. Junior pitcher Brianna Butler went the full seven innings following her appearances against Lipscomb and Campbell, tossing 107 pitches and allowing only three hits. She was backed up offensively by Jacobsen, whose three-run home run in the first inning proved to be the difference.
Messin’ with Texas
After the win against North Dakota State Saturday afternoon, the Blue Devils had a chance to make history. The Longhorns entered the weekend undefeated, including an 11-0 beatdown of No. 12 Tennessee.
But perfection only lasts so long, and Duke is an upstart program with something to prove.
The Blue Devils came out swinging, with Davis singling her way to first on the game’s opening at-bat. But Duke proved unable to drive her in, with two groundouts and a strikeout rounding out the frame for the Blue Devils.
It looked like Texas was about to get something going in the third inning with two outs and runners on second and third base, but a groundout slowed any momentum for the host team as well.
Then, in the fourth inning, Duke used a double by Wilson, a dropped third strike and a single by Jacobsen to score the only run of the game.
The Blue Devils held onto the lead, with junior pitcher Peyton St. George getting out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth inning. Using a walk and an error, Texas got runners on first and second base. A pop-up provided the first out of the inning, but a Duke error on the next at-bat loaded the bases for the Longhorns. A fielder’s choice proceeded to get the leading runner out at home, but St. George was still staring down loaded bases with two outs. A Courtney Day flyout then ended the scare and took the Blue Devils into the final inning.
After Duke failed to score in the top half of the seventh, the Longhorns had one last inning to try and avoid the upset.
A fly ball to right field and a fielder’s choice made it two outs with a runner on first for Texas. Then, Longhorn pinch runner Camille Corona tried to steal second against Duke catcher Jazmine Moreno, who led the ACC in runners thrown out last year. Moreno heaved it over the ducking head of St. George and into the glove of Gisele Tapia at second base, the umpire called the runner out and the Blue Devils celebrated.
Duke will have the chance to extend its explosive start to the season several times this week. North Carolina Central will come to Durham Tuesday.
Then, it’s time for conference play. The Blue Devils will play North Carolina State Wednesday before Notre Dame will come to Durham for a pivotal three-game series beginning Friday.