Softball team rides roller coaster in 2007
Connie Clark, the only softball coach Texas has ever had, says at some point in the days ahead she will sit down and reflect on the 2007 season that ended in the NCAA Regional final with a 3-0 loss to Florida in Gainesville.
The Longhorns ended the season with an overall 35-20 mark.
"This season we were bringing along a lot of young players since we had only two seniors (Megan Willis and Jackie Williams) coming back," Clark said. "We did an awful lot of good things this season. The team was unselfish, but like any team with young players we were up and down throughout the year. We had to learn how to handle the grind of a season.
"I did enjoy watching them grow up."
To illustrate the inconsistency of the 2007 team, they went from March 13 to April 25 and only once won back-to-back games.
"We were the underdogs all year," Clark began. "But that's where Megan and Jackie showed great leadership. They kept their focus on the target and set an example for the young players."
Same was true for Clark's talented junior pitcher Meagan Denny, who owned a 1.69 earned-run average during the Big 12 season.
And there is no question how much junior Desiree Williams was missed this season as she played only eight games because of a knee injury.
Thus it was the freshmen carrying the load for the Longhorns, who had been to the Women's College World Series the previous two years and three of the past four years.
Freshman pitcher Erin Tresselt was a great change-of-pace next to Denny in the circle as the first-year hurler won the game that propelled the Longhorns into the Regional finals. Tresselt, a Missouri City right-hander, won 11 of 13 decisions in 2007 and finished third in the conference with a 1.20 ERA.
"Erin threw like a veteran," Clark said of her first-year pitching standout's effort in getting the Longhorns to the regional's final game against Florida.
Tallie Thrasher and Loryn Johnson were other freshmen who made strong contributions to the team this year. Thrasher shared the UT single-season home run record with 12 and Johnson was second on the team in hits and doubles.
Five Longhorns were All-Big 12 Second Team, including Willis, who also claimed her second consecutive Big 12 Conference Defensive Player of the Year award.
"When we gathered in the fall, the team's goal was to win the Women's College World Series," Clark said. "And while that was a grand goal, it was rather a lofty goal with the team we had."
"This was a very talented team, but this team lacked experience. And experience means a lot when you are faced with the kinds of challenges we had at different times this year."
Clark said the NCAAs began a new season for her team.
"And when we went out for that last game against Florida, I was confident because I could see the confidence in the players," she said. "And we did things well physically and mentally."
"You have to be pleased with the character the team showed. As far as next year, we'll have the experience. And, we have the great tradition of Texas. We need to get back to where the Texas teams have been."