Softball eager to start season
Jan. 28, 2013
Alex Hubbard, Texas Media Relations
AUSTIN, Texas - The No. 7 Texas Softball team opens the season in less than two weeks, and the coaches and players are enjoying the process of preparation to get ready for the campaign.
"We are talking a lot about living up to standards and how we do things," head coach Connie Clark said. "We will play Texas Softball - meaning you run everything out, play aggressive and go hard in practice and games."
Instilling Texas standards is important for this young team, a group that includes six freshmen who have yet to play an official college softball game.
"It's exciting and stressful," freshman utility player Lindsey Stephens said on thinking about playing in her first game. "My dream is coming true. I've been waiting for this my whole life, and now it's here."
In addition to the six newcomers, the Longhorns welcome back four seniors, four juniors and two sophomores. Three returning players earned All-Big 12 Conference honors last season as seniors Taylor Hoagland (OF/INF) and Torie Schmidt (OF) were first-team selections while senior pitcher Blaire Luna was a second-team honoree.
"At each position we have a lot of depth. We don't just have one person that we go to, we have a variety of people," Luna said.
Clark believes the team will rely on the leadership of the returning players to help the freshman get comfortable at the collegiate level. But she also knows it will not take long for the newcomers to adjust.
"We have really good balance with our upper-classmen. The upper-classmen are walking the walk and setting the tone," Clark said. "And the freshmen are an amazing class mentally. They are mature enough and talented enough that they are pushing everybody."
The depth of the team is one of the major reasons for excitement among the coaches and players.
"There is so much talent on this team," Stephens said. "This team could go far."
In the last two weeks of preseason practice, Clark and the Texas coaches are pushing the players to focus on the details in anticipation of opening day, when the Longhorns host Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at 7 p.m. on Feb. 7.
"We are looking at communication and synergy," Clark said. "Are they working together? We want to make sure they understand the flow of the game."
The Longhorns finished last season with a 47-13 record after being eliminated by Oregon in the NCAA Super Regionals. The team hopes to extend the postseason run one step further this season and make it all the way to the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City.
"I'm hungry because it's my last year. I want to go out really strong," Luna said.
Texas hosts the Texas Classic Feb. 7-10. All five of UT's games during the event will be televised live by Longhorn Network.