BELTON- Malyn Simmons and Sierra Grant each had quite a memorable collegiate debut.
In the first game of the freshman’s college career for the 18th-ranked UMHB softball team, Simmons was in the game for no more than a handful of pitches. But the native of Missouri City, Texas, was called upon as a pinch runner in the eighth inning of Saturday’s season opener against St. Thomas (TX), and scored the game-winning run, tagging from third Grant’s sacrifice fly to left field.
Simmons’ run was the only score of the game for either side, in a contest dominated by pitching. But when Grant, a freshman out of Samuel Clemens High School in Schertz, stepped to the plate with one out and a runner on third in the extra-inning situation, she did not miss her opportunity.
The RBI won the game for the Crusaders, giving UMHB a 1-0 start to the 2023 campaign.
For the first seven innings, it was the two starting pitchers who dominated the storyline-and the stat sheet. Kami Flores, UMHB’s starter, had just 9.2 innings pitched a season ago, and in her first outing of the year, nearly matched that total.
Flores fired eight complete innings, allowing just two hits and a walk, while striking out seven. Her consistency in the circle was something UMHB head coach Melissa Mojica had noted during the preseason, and it showed on Saturday afternoon. UST placed a runner on third with one out in the top of the eighth, threatening to score, but Flores struck out the next batter she faced, then forced a groundout that kept the Celts quiet for yet another inning.
UST starter Alli Hughes was on-point for the first seven innings, and in total, allowed just three hits in the contest. But Grant’s sacrifice fly, and Simmons’ sprint across home, proved to be the difference in a highly-competitive season opener for the Cru.
UMHB has now won its season opener in all three years with Mojica as head coach.
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