GCM softball alum helps UTA claim collegiate title

When Kjirstyn Murphy first made her way over to the University Texas-Arlington after graduating from Goose Creek Memorial High School, she held plenty of softball dreams.

Joining the UTA program in 2017, Murphy headed to Arlington to begin play for an improving program in the Sun Belt Conference and realized right away she had made a pretty good choice.

So much so, that for the past two years, UTA may have missed the coveted field of 64 that qualify for the NCAA Division I Tournament, but she was still able to enjoy the postseason.

This spring came the next best thing to being in the NCAA tournament when Murphy and UTA captured the National Invitational Softball Championship when they swept through three games, capturing the title on May 26 with a 4-3 victory over Iowa State in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Murphy, a third-baseman, went 1-for-3 as the team’s designated hitter.

They also defeated Loyola Marymount, 6-3 and Liberty, 9-8, following a qualification process that saw them beat S.F. Austin and McNeese State the previous week to head to Colorado.

The NISC consisted of four of the best teams that didn’t qualify as at-large teams to the NCAA Tournament field. It is similar to the National Invitational Tournament that is synonymous with college basketball.

It may not have been the NCAAs, but it still meant something to Murphy.

“Your last tournament is the conference tournament and if you lose that, you end your season on a loss and you don’t want to do that for your seniors,” Murphy said. “It is another opportunity for us to keep going and play some good teams from all over. If you do win it, you get to end your season on a win. The seniors get to go out that way.”

UTA (36-27) was eliminated from the SBC by Louisiana-Monroe and then got the reprieve from the NISC for the second straight season. Last spring, the Mavericks got invited to the tournament and were eliminated in two games.

“When we got invited, we were excited to go,” Murphy said. “Last year we went 0-2 so we were hungry to keep going. There is better pitching an better teams all around. If you win you get to go into next season really confident.”

So far, Murphy appears to have found her perfect home playing for the Mavericks.

“It’s been incredible and an awakening; It’s a lot tougher than high school was – it’s a lot faster paced,” Murphy said. “I have loved every second of it. I’ve made lifelong friends. You have a family away from home.

“There are very good teams and very good players (in the SBC). We have a new coach since I got there and we continue to get better and should be better next year. I think we have a good shot at (the NCAA Tournament).”

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