TROY, Ala. - Despite a two-hit gem in the circle from Sam Clakley, UTA's run in the Sun Belt Championship came to an end in the semifinals with a 1-0 defeat to Texas State at the Troy Softball Complex.
"They really came together at the right time, the battled, they competed and stuck together," UTA coach Kristie Fox said of the team's run. "There was a lot of adversity that we had to face and they just kept battling and chipping away and competing, and that is really all you can ask. I am really proud of them."
The Mavericks (32-26) ended the tournament with a 3-2 record and will await a potential bid into the postseason. The Mavs were announced as a team on the National Invitational Softball Championship watch list and feature a RPI of 82 entering the week. Announcements for any potential selection will be made on Sunday after the NCAA Selection Show.
"It is huge," Fox said of the potential of a postseason bid. "They have been in finals all week this week and have had a lot on their plate. They are playing games, trying to take finals and are worried about their academics. It will be nice to have the opportunity and just worry about playing and worrying about competing and setting the standards of postseason being in our cards."
UTA reached the semifinals of the tournament for the first time since joining the league in 2014. The Mavs last reached a semifinal in the 2010 season in the Southland Conference. The team's 32-win season - best since 2011 - helped the Mavs earned the No. 5 seed for the best finish in a highly-rated Sun Belt.
Clakley's tossed seven innings of two-hit ball as she went toe-to-toe with the league's Pitcher of the Year in Randi Rupp. The Mavs knocked six hits against Rupp, but couldn't find the crucial hit that it had in the previous two games in wins over Georgia State and South Alabama.
"We had a lot of really good at-bats, we just couldn't string them together," Fox said. " Sam C threw a two-hitter and they just so happened to get the two hits in one inning. We always talk about those two-out RBI and somebody stepping up and they all tried, but the ball didn't fall our way today."
Texas State used a pair of hits, one coming on a two-out single to score the team's only run in the third. For the week, 13 of the 16 runs scored on the Mavs came with two outs.
The Mavericks and Bobcats split four games over the course of the season after UTA took 2-of-3 in the final weekend of regular-season play.
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