UTSA women’s basketball prepares to enter the American with talent, depth and experience

UTSA coach Karen Aston. North Texas beat UTSA 51-48 in Conference USA women's basketball on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Coach Karen Aston’s UTSA Roadrunners won nine of their last 13 games last season and executed a spirited charge into the semifinals of the C-USA tournament. – File photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Three weeks away from the start of official fall practices, UTSA women’s basketball coaches are feeling pretty good about the talent, the depth and the experience on a team that will carry the school’s flag into its first season in the American Athletic Conference.

“I think we’re in a better place than we were last year at this time,” third-year UTSA head coach Karen Aston said Monday “We had some carryover from people sticking around and not transferring.

Jordyn Jenkins. The UTSA women's basketball team lost to Louisiana Tech 62-57 in the Roadrunners' Conference USA opener on Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Forward Jordyn Jenkins averaged 20.6 points per game in her first season at UTSA. Coach Karen Aston says the 6-foot power forward is rehabilitating an offseason knee injury. – File photo by Joe Alexander

“You know, we didn’t graduate a lot of kids. Hailey (Atwood) returned for us (as a graduate student). I think there’s just a little more carryover. We’re a little further ahead than we were this time last year.”

One issue looms with a question regarding the health of star forward Jordyn Jenkins. Aston said that Jenkins suffered a knee injury last spring that required surgery.

The coach declined to discuss the mishap in detail, other than to say that last season’s Conference USA Player of the Year was hurt in the offseason, in a March-April time frame.

Aston also declined to speculate on how far along Jenkins is in the rehabilitation process, with the season opener for the Roadrunners looming on Nov. 6 at Arizona State.

“We’re really disappointed for her,” she said. “She was in such a really good place. We’ll just see how she recovers.”

If Jenkins can return to form, the Roadrunners could have one of the most talented teams in school history.

In her first season at UTSA after transferring from Southern Cal, the 6-foot power forward captured the C-USA’s Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year honors by averaging 20.6 points (on 49 percent shooting) and 7.5 rebounds a game.

Tossing in a school single-season record 659 points, Jenkins led the charge as the Roadrunners finished 9-4 down the stretch to post a final mark of 13-19.

Near the end, they won six games in a row, including their last four in the regular season and their first two in the C-USA postseason.

At that point, after notching tournament wins over Florida Atlantic and Rice to move within two victories of the NCAA’s Big Dance, they were ousted by Western Kentucky in the conference semifinals.

Moving into the AAC this season, the Roadrunners are loaded with experienced players, including five returning starters.

Strength down low last year came from Jenkins and 6-3 center Elyssa Coleman (9.5 points, 6.5 rebounds). The lead guards were Sidney Love (9.9 points) and Kyra White (8.0), with Atwood playing on the wing. Those five started the last game of the C-USA tournament.

Key reserves for most of the year included forward Maya Linton and guards Madison Cockrell, Siena Guttadauro and Alexis Parker. Along with those four, Kyleigh McGuire also played off the bench — and all five of them are back. Another player returning is Nissa Sam-Grant, a 6-foot-4 post, who redshirted last season.

A few weeks into early fall semester workouts, there’s a completely different feel from this time last year, when the Roadrunners were trying to manage a team with eight newcomers, including five freshmen.

“Last year, we brought in eight new people,” assistant coach Empress Davenport said. “That’s essentially a starting five with reserves coming off the bench, having to learn a whole new system, having to understand the pace of collegiate basketball.

“This year we brought in three freshmen (guards Emma Lucio and Aysia Proctor and forward Idara Udo) and a transfer from James Madison, Cheyenne Rowe, who has a tremendous IQ.

“Last year, everyone was trying to learn the system and find cohesiveness (with) each other. Now, we have so much experience, our veteran players can pretty much coach the young ones.”

UTSA roster

Elyssa Coleman 6-3 forward/RS junior
Hailey Atwood 5-8 guard/grad
Alexis Parker 5-9 guard/soph
Emma Lucio 5-9 guard/freshman
Siena Guttadauro 5-6 guard/soph
Madison Cockrell 5-4 guard/soph
Sidney Love 5-8 guard/soph
Aysia Proctor 5-8 guard/freshman
Maya Linton 5-11 forward/soph
Cheyenne Rowe 6-2 forward/soph
Kyra White 5-9 guard/senior
Kyleigh McGuire 5-11 forward/senior
Idara Udo 6-1 forward/freshman
Nissa Sam-Grant 6-4 center/senior
Jordyn Jenkins 6-0 forward/senior

UTSA coach reflects on portal craziness and efforts to rebuild a basketball roster

Steve Henson. Louisiana Tech beat UTSA 66-55 in Conference USA men's basketball on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA coach Steve Henson applauded his assistant coaches for their work in a hectic summer of recruiting after losing 10 players in the transfer portal. — File photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special to The JB Replay

One thing I’ve always admired about Steve Henson is, when he fields a tough question, he keeps his composure and answers it honestly, without getting defensive.

It’s an admirable trait that I suppose comes from all the time he spent studying at the Lon Kruger school of college basketball.

In addition, it’s clear that Henson respects those in the media and the job that they do.

As for yours truly, I didn’t ask the embattled coach of the UTSA Roadrunners all the tough questions on Wednesday afternoon.

But in the interest of good, honest storytelling, and on the eve of Henson’s eighth season on campus, I couldn’t help asking at least one or two.

I asked about the way last season ended and then about the two or three weeks of transfer portal craziness that followed.

For a refresher, Henson’s Roadrunners were playing the Rice Owls in the opening round of the Conference USA tournament at Frisco.

The Roadrunners appeared to have advanced to the quarterfinals, as point guard Japhet Medor drove for what initially was scored as a buzzer-beating, game-winning basket.

In the moments that followed, elation turned to agony, as officials ruled that Medor didn’t get the shot off in time.

“Just a heart breaker,” Henson said of the 72-71 loss.

While the pain of having a season end on an official’s review was shocking enough, the aftermath was even worse.

Back home in San Antonio, nobody liked the idea of a second consecutive 10-22 record going into the UTSA basketball history books.

But, really, who would have imagined that the Roadrunners would ultimately have 10 scholarship players enter the transfer portal over the next few weeks?

“It was a hectic spring and summer,” Henson said in an interview at his office. “Some of those guys that entered the portal, it was mutual. It was expected in several cases. They wanted bigger roles, better opportunities.

“(We had) a couple of surprises. One or two, we were disappointed and (it) surprised us. But we weren’t shocked.

“One or two just jumped in (to the portal) to see what was happening. There were a couple that went in that didn’t want to go in. A couple that went in and wanted to come back.”

A common thread in roster instability around the nation today is related to Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) payments that are now available to all college athletes.

Combined with a one-time transfer rule that allows athletes to move from school to school without having to sit out a year, it’s not surprising that so many are taking advantage of it.

Surely, it’s one of the factors that contributed to UTSA players looking elsewhere. Who could blame them, really?

If you work hard at your job and you can get better compensation elsewhere, wouldn’t you at least take a look? Of course you would.

Henson, for his part, didn’t want to comment about any of the particulars on any of his former players.

But he did discuss with some emotion the efforts to rebuild his team and the job that his staff did to make it happen.

“It was a hectic recruiting (cycle), gosh, in April and May,” he said. “We had a lot of shorter visits this spring than we had in the past. We’d bring someone in on a Monday and get ’em out on Tuesday. Bring someone else in on Wednesday and get ’em out on Thursday.

“Our coaches really, really stepped up.

“(Mike) Peck and (Adam) Hood were involved in most of that recruiting early on before coach (Kurtis) Darden joined us. I thought they did a heck of a job. You know, we’ll see. We’ll find out with this roster, what it can do when it counts.”

It may count quite a bit, with this being the last year of Henson’s contract.

In analyzing his new roster, the coach emphasized that he will be able to play with three centers in 7-foot Carlton Linguard, Jr., 6-10 Trey Edmonds and 6-9 Massal Diouf in an effort to match up with opponents in the school’s first season in the American Athletic Conference.

“We’re excited with this group,” he said of the roster as a whole. “We’ve got a lot of versatility with this bunch.

“I don’t know that we’ve ever had three centers like we have right now, in terms of size and defensive mindset, really, anywhere I’ve been.

“It’s something that’s so noticeable in our workouts right now, to have that type of physicality and presence and size at the center position.”

UTSA roster

Nazar Mahmoud, 6-5 guard, freshman
Jordan Ivy-Curry, 6-3 guard, junior
Carlton Linguard Jr., 7-0 center, redshirt senior
Trey Edmonds, 6-10 center/forward, junior
Dre Fuller Jr., 6-6 guard, graduate student
Adante’ Holiman, 6-0 point guard, sophomore
Chandler Cuthrell, 6-8 forward, junior
Isaiah Wyatt, 6-4 guard/forward, redshirt junior
Massal Diouf, 6-9 forward, sophomore
PJ Carter, 6-5 guard, junior
Christian Tucker, 6-3 guard, junior
Blessing Adesipe, 6-6 forward, junior
Justin Thomas, 6-7 guard, junior
x-Josh Reid, 6-7 forward, junior
x-Juan Reyna, 6-3 point guard, junior

Roster notes

Henson said that Ivy-Curry, who played last year at the University of the Pacific, and Thomas, a multi-skilled guard from Milwaukee, are considered two-time transfers and must get waivers from the NCAA for eligibility to play this season. Ivy-Curry, from La Marque, played in 2020-21 and 2021-22 at UTSA and then transferred to Pacific.

Edmonds (Utah Tech), Fuller (Central Florida), Holiman (UT Rio Grande Valley), Cuthrell (Odessa College), Wyatt (Chadron State, Neb.), Carter (Georgia Highlands) and Adesipe (Miles College, Montana) are eligible immediately, as is Mahmoud, a freshman from Spring Creek Academy in Plano. Fuller is making a comeback after sitting out all of last season.

Reid and Reyna are walk-ons.

Linguard sat out at UTSA last year after transferring in from Kansas State of the Big 12. He played in high school at San Antonio Stevens. Diouf and Tucker are the only two players on the roster to play for the Roadrunners last season.

Where are they?

Guards Japhet Medor, John Buggs III and DJ Richards, along with center Jacob Germany and forward Isaiah Addo-Ankrah, all played major roles for the Roadrunners last year and then elected to transfer.

This coming season, Buggs and Germany are with UTSA opponents in the American Athletic Conference. Buggs is at North Texas and Germany, a 6-11 forward, will play at Wichita State. Medor is on the roster at Fordham University in New York. Fordham is in the Atlantic 10. Addo-Ankrah is with the University of Denver in the Summit League.

Richards was announced at McNeese State earlier this summer but was not on that squad’s roster as of Wednesday afternoon.

Others from last year’s UTSA squad whose names are on college basketball rosters elsewhere are two who will play in San Antonio, including forwards Lamin Sabally at the University of the Incarnate Word and Lachlan Bofinger at St. Mary’s.

Forward Aleu Aleu is set to play at St. Edward’s University in Austin. Forward Josh Farmer and guard Azavier Johnson also elected to transfer.

Excited for a seventh season as editor after learning a few lessons in humility

Jerry Briggs (left) works as the editor of The JB Replay. His wife, Paula, teaches special needs children at Copperfield Elementary in the Judson Independent School District. – Photo special

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

The hand with the crooked scar has mostly healed, thanks in large measure to the skill of the surgeon and the nurses and the physical therapist, not to mention the support of my family and the promise of a seventh season writing and editing The JB Replay.

I’ve known for years that I’d need to deal with an issue known as Dupuytren’s contracture.

Basically, it’s a condition that slowly crumples the hands, with fascia thickening around tendons and pulling fingers down and inward, toward the palm. Left untreated, the malady can lead to serious problems. In my case, the doctor recommended surgery. I had my left hand fixed four years ago. My dominant hand — the right — was repaired on June 15.

For the first few weeks I debated whether to say something about my predicament.

I mean, I had to drop coverage of Texas-based teams in the NCAA baseball playoffs after the first weekend of the tournament. Then, in the weeks after the operation, I didn’t really know what to say about whether I could or should try to continue in a writing career that has spanned 46 years.

I mean, it was weird enough trying to do simple things around the house, much less think about how I should go about covering the upcoming college basketball season. Now a little more than eight weeks post-op, I’m feeling pretty strong. The right hand is not all the way back, but it’s on a good trajectory towards normalcy.

The hand no longer folds over the side of the laptop when I try to write a story. Thank goodness.

Overall, I’m feeling much, much more like my old self after swimming regularly in the mornings over the past few weeks. Hey, I’m no Michael Phelps. But I’ve knocked out about 1,500 meters in each of the last two trips to the pool. Now I feel ready to start making trips to the UTSA campus. To say hello to coaches Steve Henson and Karen Aston. To get acquainted with all the new faces on the rosters.

Clearly, most of my enthusiasm stems from just feeling good again.

Additionally, I just feel like I have a better perspective on a lot of things. For instance, I’ve written hundreds of stories over the years about athletes facing health challenges. I’ve always empathized with the athletes who were held back by injuries. Now I know from personal experience what it really feels like for a ball player’s season to be in question.

Moreover, the value of personal relationships has also come into much, much sharper focus. My wife, Paula, bless her heart, pretty much gave up her entire summer looking after me. When she wasn’t around the house, my son Charlie was. To my friends, everyone who called and messaged, you all played a huge role in my recovery.

Finally, for the readers who might have wondered why I didn’t write a thing about the College World Series in June or UTSA’s recent transition to the American Athletic Conference, I want to thank you for your patience. You guys are the reason I continue to run this site. Hands down.

Opening-day upset: Middle Tennessee downs UTSA in C-USA tournament

By Jerry Briggs
Special to The JB Replay

Junior Eriq Swan pitched the seventh-seeded Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders past the No. 2 UTSA Roadrunners, earning the win in a 5-1 victory on opening day Wednesday at the Conference USA Baseball Championship.

Swan, a 6-foot-6 righthander, took the loss in a 5-4 decision to UTSA last month at Roadrunner Field in San Antonio. He was more than up to the task in the rematch in Houston, however, allowing only one run on three hits through six innings.

With the loss, UTSA was forced into the losers bracket.

The Roadrunners will take on the Charlotte 49ers at 9 a.m. Thursday in an elimination game. Middle Tennessee State advanced in the winners bracket, earning a date against sixth-seeded Louisiana Tech in a game scheduled to start Thursday at 12:30 p.m.

The C-USA tournament is being contested at Rice University’s Reckling Park. The tournament will run through Sunday, with the winner earning an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

In Wednesday’s opener, No. 6 seed Louisiana Tech downed third-seeded Charlotte 13-8. Middle Tennessee then followed with the second shocker of the day in downing UTSA.

Later, top-seeded Dallas Baptist rolled to a 13-2 victory over eight-seed Rice, and fourth-seeded Western Kentucky rallied from a six-run deficit to down No. 5 Florida Atlantic 10-9 in the night game.

In the second game of the day, the Blue Raiders were the visiting team, batting first. They got the jump on the Roadrunners almost immediately when JT Mabry hit the second pitch from starter Ryan Ward over the left field wall for a 1-0 lead.

Ward lasted a little more than two innings. In the top of the third, he walked the first three batters he faced, prompting coaches to bring in Luke Malone.

The Blue Raiders scratched out two runs, one on a ground ball and another on a sacrifice fly, to dump the Roadrunners into a 3-0 deficit.

Meanwhile, Swan kept the Roadrunners off balance with fastball clocked in the high 90s, mixed with a breaking pitch and a changeup.

Going into the sixth inning, he had a one-hit shutout when he struck out the first two batters he faced. At that point, UTSA’s Matt King slammed a home run over the left field wall. The blow brought the Roadrunners to within 3-1.

In the eighth, the Blue Raiders made it 5-1 when DJ Wright hit a two-run homer off Roadrunners’ senior Luke Malone.

The story of the game was Swan. A few years ago, the former high school standout in Murfreesboro, Tenn., decided to stay home and play for Middle Tennessee State.

He entered the tournament with a reputation for having control problems and with a 7.04 earned run average. In his best outing of the season, Swan not only held explosive UTSA to one run, but he also struck out nine. He improved to 2-6 with a 6.49 ERA.

For UTSA, Ward took the loss. After being charged with three runs allowed in two plus innings, he fell to 1-2. Malone finished the game, pitching seven innings in relief. He gave up two runs on six hits and struck out two.

King and Caleb Hill produced two hits apiece for the Roadrunners, who could manage only six hits for the game.

Leyton Barry hit the ball hard to the outfield twice but was held to zero for four on the day. Taylor Smith was also zero for four and struck out four times. Antonio Valdez, UTSA’s leading hitter, was one for three.


UTSA 38-18
Middle Tennessee 26-27

Wednesday’s results

Louisiana Tech 13, Charlotte 8
Middle Tennessee State 5, UTSA 1
Dallas Baptist 13, Rice 2
Western Kentucky 10, Florida Atlantic 9

Thursday’s schedule

Charlotte vs. UTSA, 9 a.m. (elimination game)
Louisiana Tech vs. Middle Tennessee, 12:30 p.m. (winners bracket)
Rice vs. Florida Atlantic, 4 p.m. (elimination game)
Dallas Baptist vs. Western Kentucky, 7:30 p.m. (winners bracket)


UTSA outfield standout Shane Sirdashney, trying to make a comeback from a hamstring injury, started in center for the Roadrunners. In only his fourth game since the Middle Tennessee series in April, Sirdashney had one hit in four at bats.

When the Roadrunners swept a three-game series at home from the Blue Raiders in April, they improved their record to 28-8. Since then, they have been plagued with inconsistency, going 10-10 in their last 20 games.

Despite the swoon, they can tie the school record for victories in a season if they can beat Charlotte on Thursday morning. If they win, they would play Friday at 2 p.m. against the loser between Louisiana Tech and Middle Tennessee.

Still dreaming big, UTSA opens C-USA tournament play today

UTSA starter Luke Malone pitched six innings. UTSA scored four runs in the seventh inning to rally past Rice 9-7 in Conference USA baseball on Friday, May 5, 2023, at Roadrunner Field. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA pitcher Luke Malone says the team has had a good season but hasn’t reached its goals. – Photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

The UTSA Roadrunners’ baseball team has already left its mark on Conference USA. In its ninth and final run through a C-USA regular-season schedule, Coach Pat Hallmark’s squad bolted into the early lead in the 10-team race and stubbornly held the top spot through the first half.

In the end, the Roadrunners finished second to the streaking Dallas Baptist Patriots. But as eight teams assemble in Houston for this week’s C-USA Championship, in the so-called second season, UTSA stands as one of the favorites with a record of 38-17 and a conference mark of 21-8.

The 21 wins within the conference represent UTSA’s best showing in the C-USA since transitioning out of the Western Athletic Conference in 2013. The 38 wins represent the second most in a season for the team since the program started playing ball in 1992.

In fact, UTSA can tie the record of 39 victories with a win today against Middle Tennessee State in the C-USA tournament opener at Houston.

But in unpacking all their emotions between the end of the regular season and the start of the postseason, the Roadrunners left little doubt that while setting a school record for victories sometime this week at Reckling Park would be nice, it would be less than fulfilling if they come up short of the conference’s postseason title.

“Overall, we’ve had a pretty good season,” UTSA pitcher Luke Malone said. “But we still haven’t accomplished our team goals. I don’t want to share with everyone what those are, but we still have goals, and we still can achieve all of them. So, even though we’ve had a good season, I don’t think we’re done yet.”

As the season opened in February, the Roadrunners had a certain look about them. Their competition wasn’t top of the line in every game, but they did win non-conference contests at Houston, Baylor and Texas State and opened with an 18-3 record, which included a 10-game winning streak.

Through the middle of April, they journeyed on the road to beat a likely NCAA team in Texas A&M, and they were 28-8 after sweeping a C-USA series from Middle Tennessee State at Roadrunner Field.

Since then, they haven’t been quite the same.

They’ve played mostly without two of their best outfielders, Shane Sirdashney and Isaiah Walker, and combined with some pitching issues, they’ve recorded a 10-9 record down the stretch. After the 0-3 showing against Dallas Baptist two weeks ago, they finished with a 2-1 series victory at Louisiana Tech last weekend.

Now, with a ratings percentage index listing at No. 64, they know that nothing less than a C-USA postseason title will get them to the NCAA tournament.

“I think where our RPI is … we need to win this tournament,” Hallmark said. “So, that’s the goal, and that’s what we’re planning on doing.”

To get that done, the Roadrunners likely need to start fast, stay out of the losers bracket in the double-elimination format through Saturday and build momentum toward a title match on Sunday.

As the tournament starts today, third-seeded Charlotte and No. 6 Louisiana Tech play the early game today, followed by two seed UTSA and No. 7 Middle Tennessee at 12:30 p.m. Those four teams will play one another today, Thursday, Friday and Saturday for a berth in the title game, which would be contested Sunday.

In the afternoon and evening games today, top-seeded Dallas Baptist plays eight seed Rice at 4 p.m., followed by No. 4 Western Kentucky against five seed FAU at 7:30 p.m.


1. Dallas Baptist 42-13, 25-5
2. UTSA 38-17, 21-8
3. Charlotte 29-25, 17-12
4. WKU 31-24, 16-14
5. FAU 33-23, 16-14
6. Louisiana Tech 27-29, 15-15
7. Middle Tennessee State 25-27, 14-16
8. Rice 21-35, 9-21


UTSA had a program-record eight players mentioned in postseason awards announced Tuesday.

Senior Taylor Smith, who hit six home runs last week, wasn’t one of them.

Smith started last week with a grand slam at Abilene Christian, followed with three homers at Louisiana Tech on Thursday and two more against LA Tech on Friday. On Saturday, he went 0 for 4 to snap an eight-game hitting streak.

For the season, Smith hit .317 with a team-high 17 home runs. Shortstop Matt King also failed to make the first or second teams in the all-conference listings despite a solid year in which he hit .310. King ranked second on the team with 57 RBIs.

Simon Miller, brilliant with a 8-1 record, 11 saves and a 1.83 earned run average out of the bullpen, was named the C-USA’s Pitcher of the Year. Miller and Antonio Valdez (.391 batting average) were named to the C-USA all-conference first team.

Second team honors went to catcher Josh Killeen, second baseman Leyton Barry, outfielder Caleb Hill, Malone, who was UTSA’s Friday night starter, and Sammy Diaz. Diaz, a first baseman/catcher, made the squad as a utility player. Pitcher Ruger Riojas was named to the all-freshman team.

Shane Sirdashney’s pinch-hit homer fuels optimism as UTSA prepares for the postseason

Shane Sirdashney. UTSA beat Marshall 5-4 on Sunday, May 8, 2022, at Roadrunner Field. - photo by Joe Alexander

Shane Sirdashney could be limited in the Conference USA tournament because of a hamstring injury, but he said Monday that he is preparing play. – File photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Shane Sirdashney’s last regular-season at bat for the UTSA Roadrunners a few days ago turned into a memorable one on several levels.

He’ll always remember the solid contact. The ball flying off the bat. The thoughts racing through his head. The sound of his teammates’ voices ringing in his ears.

“Originally I thought it was going to be too much of a line drive, off the wall, and I was going to have to run,” said Sirdashney, who has been battling a left leg injury for the last month. “Then I heard some screaming and cheering when I rounded first base. I was like, ‘OK, I can slow down now.’ ”

In a decidedly good omen for the Roadrunners, Sirdashney blasted a pinch-hit, solo home run in the ninth inning last Saturday at Louisiana Tech.

Even though UTSA lost the game 7-5, the bullet off the bat of their hard-luck outfielder sent a jolt of excitement through a dugout full of players looking for positive signs entering this week’s Conference USA Baseball Championship.

It also launched a few jokes for the trip home.

“The joke is, just hit homers, and you don’t have to stress the leg,” UTSA coach Pat Hallmark said Monday.

Added UTSA pitcher Luke Malone: “He busted out of the box like he thought it was a double. I mean, he put his head down and started sprinting, which you love to see because of his hamstring. Then the ball went over the fence and he was smiling. It was good to see him back and swinging it.”

Sirdashney, a .361 hitter, has been suffering from a partially torn tendon in his hamstring, in the tendon on the inside of his left knee.

He injured it on April 16 in a home game against Middle Tennessee State. After playing spot duty in two games a few weeks later, Sirdashney was shut down for the next three weeks.

That’s why the UTSA players felt a surge of excitement when they heard his named called to pinch hit late in the game against the Bulldogs.

“We were going crazy when he first stepped in the box,” Malone said. “I mean, there was some energy in our dugout, and then off the bat, we were just screaming. It was good to see.”

Second-seeded UTSA (38-17) opens the tournament Wednesday in Houston against No. 7 Middle Tennessee State (25-27). The tournament is double-elimination through Saturday, with a championship game scheduled Sunday.

The extent of Sirdashney’s role in the five-day event is unknown and could hinge partially on how he practiced Monday, how he feels after practice tonight and on Tuesday. Considering the nature of the injury, he’ll likely be day to day as the tournament progresses.

Sirdashney, from The Woodlands, said he’s preparing to play. It’s important to him because the winner of the event gets an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

“I mean, this is my last time ever playing baseball, so I’m going to give it all I’ve got,” Sirdashney said. “The plan is, I’m ready to go on Wednesday. Whatever coach Hallmark needs me to do, if that means starting in centerfield (or whatever).

“I’m going to practice today, see how it feels tomorrow, and I should be good to go on Wednesday.”

UTSA set to take on Middle Tennessee in tournament opener

By Jerry Briggs
Special to The JB Replay

The UTSA Roadrunners will take on the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders on Wednesday in Houston on opening day of the Conference USA Baseball Championship, according to the C-USA bracket. The eight-team championship runs through next Sunday at Rice University’s Reckling Park.

In Game 1 of the tournament, the third-seeded Charlotte 49ers will meet the No. 6 Louisiana Tech Bulldogs at 9 a.m. Second-seeded UTSA will play No. 7 Middle Tennessee at 12:30 p.m. in Game 2. On Thursday, the losers of Games 1 and 2 are scheduled to play at 9 a.m., with the winners meeting at 12:30 p.m.

In Game 3 of the tournament, the top-seeded Dallas Baptist Patriots are scheduled to meet the No. 8 Rice Owls at 4 p.m. Wednesday, with No. 4 WKU meeting fifth-seeded Florida Atlantic in Game 4 at 7:30 p.m. On Thursday, the Games 3 and 4 losers play at 4 and the winners at 7:30 p.m.

In head-to-head meetings this season, the Roadrunners swept three games from the Blue Raiders in San Antonio back in April. They split two games against the 49ers in a rain-shortened weekend at Charlotte and won two of three over the past three days at Louisiana Tech.

Sirdashney homers in finale

Shane Sirdashney came off the bench to rip a pinch-hit home run in the ninth inning, but the UTSA Roadrunners fell short in their regular-season finale. Louisiana Tech held off UTSA 7-5 Saturday at J.C. Love Field in Ruston, La. With the loss, the Roadrunners wrapped up their regular season at 38-17, one victory shy of the school record.

Next up for the Roadrunners is the Conference USA tournament, scheduled for next week in Houston. They’ll be the second seed in the tournament that will run from Wednesday through next Sunday at Rice University’s Reckling Park. The winner in Houston gets the prize of an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Sirdashney’s availability next week could be a factor. He is a standout defender in centerfield and a .361 hitter. But, because of a hamstring problem, he hasn’t played much in the past month. His appearance on Saturday was only his third since he played three games against Middle Tennessee State from April 14-16.


UTSA 21-8, 38-17
Louisiana Tech 15-15, 27-29

Coming up

Conference USA tournament, May 24-28, at Reckling Park in Houston

UTSA, on the right path again, beats LA Tech 5-3 to clinch series

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Taylor Smith hit two homers Friday night as the UTSA Roadrunners downed the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, 5-3, to clinch a weekend series in Conference USA baseball.

Coming into the three-game series at Ruston, La., the Roadrunners had lost four straight games. But in the first two of a three-game series at J.C. Love Field, the Roadrunners have prevailed by two runs in both contests, pushing their record for the season to 38-16, including 21-7 in the C-USA.

On Thursday night, they hit five home runs in an 18-16 victory in 11 innings. On Friday, they hit three more, including back-to-back shots by Smith and Antonio Valdez in the first inning. Smith added another solo shot in the ninth to give him six home runs in three games this week.

The senior from Georgetown hit one homer at Abilene Christian on Tuesday. He added three more at LA Tech on Thursday night. And now, with the two on Friday, he increased his team-leading total to 17 on the season. In the three games, Smith has totaled nine hits in 16 at bats. In addition, he has produced 10 RBIs.

In the pitching department, junior Ryan Ward from Clemens High School pitched a season-high five innings to earn the victory. He allowed only two runs on two hits. Drake Smith (no relation to Taylor Smith) yielded only one run on one hit and struck out six in four innings to close the game.

With the victory, the Roadrunners clinched their 12th weekend series of the season, improving to 12-1-1 in series on the weekend. They split two games in a rain-shortened series on the road at Charlotte and lost all three games to Dallas Baptist a week ago at home.

The team’s latest win also moved the Roadrunners to within one of tying the school record for victories in a season. The record of 39 was set in 1994 and was tied in 2008. They’ll have a chance to tie the mark when they play LA Tech Saturday at noon in the series finale.

The C-USA tournament is set for next week in Houston.


UTSA 21-7, 38-16
Louisiana Tech 14-15, 26-29

Coming up

UTSA at Louisiana Tech, Saturday, noon (regular-season finale)
Conference USA tournament, May 24-28, at Reckling Park in Houston

Game updates:

In the second game of a Conference USA baseball series, UTSA is playing on the road tonight in Ruston, La., against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs. UTSA took the first game of the series, 18-16, in 11 innings Thursday night. Reed Smith is on the mound for LA Tech against Ryan Ward for UTSA.

With one out in the top of the first, UTSA’s Taylor Smith (no relation) stepped to the plate with one out and hit a solo homer. Antonio Valdez followed with another solo shot. After Matt King singled, Smith settled down and retired Caleb Hill and Josh Killeen to get out of it, setting the stage for Ward to take the mound for the Roadrunners, protecting a 2-0 lead.

For Smith, his first at bat served as a continuation of a remarkable week. On Tuesday, the senior from Georgetown belted a grand slam in UTSA’s 10-8 loss at Abilene Christian. Last night, Smith hit three homers in the first game of the series against the Bulldogs. The blast off LA Tech’s Reed Smith was his fifth homer of the week and his team-leading 16th of the season.

Ward is a 6-foot-2 junior from Clemens, a righthander who entered the contest with an 0-1 record and a 5.50 earned run average. To this point, Ward had appeared in nine games this season and had pitched 18 innings. In the first inning against the Bulldogs, Ward threw strikes and retired three in a row, a welcome sign for a team that had to throw a lot of pitches Thursday night in the series opener.

In response, Reed Smith came out and had a much better experience with UTSA batting in the top of the second. He retired three straight, setting up his teammates to do some damage in the bottom half. That’s exactly what happened. With one out, Phil Matulia doubled. Later, Logan McLeod reached on a two-out, hit by pitch. Two men were on, at first and second. Phil Hasler took advantage of the situation, ripping a double to left field that scored both runners, tying the score, 2-2.

LA Tech starter Reed Smith is settling into the game nicely. After getting lit up for two home runs in the first inning, he’s held UTSA scoreless in the second, third and fourth innings.

During that stretch, he’s yielded a double to Taylor Smith in the and an infield single. But he’s kept the game under control against an explosive offense. Buoyed by Smith’s turn of fortune, the Bulldogs came to bat in the bottom of the fourth, with the game tied 2-2, trying to make something happen against Ward and the Roadrunners.

In the fourth, Ward started to rise to the challenge. Outside of a two-out walk, he didn’t give up a thing, with Kyle Hasler popping up for the third out. It was his second straight scoreless inning.

By the fifth, the Roadrunners brought Dalton Porter to the plate to lead off, and he sent a blast into left field for a double and then took third on a ground ball out. Next, Taylor Smith walked to put runners at the corner, and Smith stole second base to set up a second-and-third situation for Matt King. King delivered with a two-run single up the middle, lifting the Roadrunners to a 4-2 lead.

As the game moved into the middle innings, the major storyline for the Roadrunners centered on Ward. In only his 10th appearance of the season, he worked five innings, yielding only two runs on two hits. Ward walked three and struck out one in his longest outing of the year. Previously, his season-best was three innings. The most pitches he had thrown in a game? Fifty seven, against Stephen F. Austin, back in March. Against the Bulldogs, he threw 71 pitches, 39 of them for strikes and exited with a 4-2 lead.

With Drake Smith on the mound, the Roadrunners made it through the sixth inning unscathed. But the Bulldogs got it going in the seventh, drawing a leadoff walk and turning it into a run with Dalton Davis’ two-out RBI double. Smith, throwing well, struck out the next batter to retire the side. He struck out three in the inning, allowing UTSA to take a 4-3 lead into the eighth.

In the eighth, it was more of the same for the Bulldogs, who couldn’t figure out Smith. The UTSA righthander set down the opposition 1-2-3, picking up a strikeout along the way, sending the game to the ninth inning with the Roadrunners leading 4-3.

UTSA’s offense had been dormant for three innings. In the sixth through the eighth, it had done little damage and had been held scoreless in each frame. Until the ninth. UTSA’s Taylor Smith hit another home run, his second of the game, to boost the Roadrunners into a 5-3 lead. Smith has two homers tonight and six in three games this week. The senior from Georgetown has 17 for the season.

UTSA wins a wild one, beating Louisiana Tech 18-16 in 11 innings

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

The UTSA Roadrunners snapped a season-long, four-game losing streak Thursday by holding off the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs 18-16 in 11 innings at Ruston, La.

In the Conference USA series opener, the Bulldogs rallied from deficits of 9-5 and 13-8 to send the game into extra innings tied at 14.

Taylor Smith and Leyton Barry homered in a four-run 11th for UTSA. It was Smith’s third home run of the game. In the bottom half, Louisiana Tech scored twice off UTSA relief ace Simon Miller before its last rally was finally shut down.

With runners at first and third base, Adarius Myers bounced one back to Miller, who tossed to first base for the final out, ending a game that lasted about four hours and 20 minutes.

Miller (8-1) pitched the last five innings, throwing 85 pitches, to pick up the victory. Barry had four hits, and Smith, Barry and Matt King each had four RBIs.

Leadoff batter Dalton Davis led Louisiana Tech with two home runs and six RBIs. Ethan Bates (4-3) was the losing pitcher after giving up the two home runs in the 11th.

The Roadrunners play two more games in Ruston against LA Tech, which beat UTSA last year in the C-USA title game.


UTSA 20-7, 37-16
Louisiana Tech 14-14, 26-28

Coming up

UTSA at Louisiana Tech, Friday, 6 p.m.
UTSA at Louisiana Tech, Saturday, noon
Conference USA tournament, May 24-28, at Reckling Park in Houston

Winning 20

The UTSA baseball program has won 20 conference games for the first time in the Conference USA era. The Roadrunners have been in the C-USA since 2014. In that time, their previous best efforts within the league came in 2015 when they finished 17-13 and last year when they finished 19-11. The Dallas Baptist Patriots, at 23-5, have clinched the C-USA title. The Roadrunners, now 20-7, will finish second going into next week’s tournament at Houston. Overall, UTSA’s 37 wins are two shy of the school record of 39, set in 1994 and again in 2008.

Ending the skid

UTSA entered the series opener in Ruston on a four-game losing streak. The Roadrunners were swept in three games at home last weekend by Dallas Baptist for their first lost series of the season. Following the sweep, they played on the road Tuesday and lost 10-8 to the Abilene Christian University Wildcats of the Western Athletic Conference. The four-game skid was the longest for UTSA coach Pat Hallmark since his team lost five straight to end the 2021 season.

Rolling in home-run city

UTSA and Louisiana Tech combined for nine home runs in the first game of the series. For the Roadrunners, Taylor Smith hit three of them, and Garrett Poston and Leyton Barry had one apiece. For the Bulldogs, Dalton Davis hit two homers, and Ethan Bates and Phillip Matulia one each. Matulia’s grand slam came in the bottom of the first inning, off Luke Malone, and it catapulted LA Tech into a 5-2 lead.

Riding Smith’s hot bat

Taylor Smith, a senior transfer from Texas A&M, has hit four home runs in two games this week. He hit a grand slam in the fifth inning Tuesday in a 10-8 loss at Abilene Christian. Against Louisiana Tech, he socked a solo homer in the first inning, a two-run shot in the fourth and a solo homer in the 11th that broke a 14-14 tie. Smith’s long-ball surge has boosted him to a team-leading 15 home runs on the season.

Looking at Barry’s numbers

Leyton Barry, one of the all-time great hitters in school history, had four hits in five at bats against Louisiana Tech. He also drove in four runs. He had a single in the first inning, a two-run double in the third, a deep fly ball out to center in the fourth, a walk in the fifth, a ground out in the seventh, a two-out, two-strike double in the ninth and a two-run homer in the 11th. Approaching the end of his UTSA career, Barry has totaled 210 hits and 39 doubles in 175 games. He also has 21 career homers.

Malone’s struggles

UTSA pitcher Luke Malone, the team’s workhorse, Friday-night starter over the last two seasons, has been vulnerable to opponents making solid contact in his last five appearances. Over that stretch, his earned run average is 10.67. Against FIU, UAB, Rice, Dallas Baptist and Louisiana Tech, the senior from Round Rock has yielded 45 hits and 34 earned runs in 28 and 2/3 innings. He gave up eight runs on eight hits in 3 and 1/3 innings against LA Tech.