No. 10/11 Softball stays relentless against tough opponents
March 7, 2013
Alex Hubbard, Texas Media Relations
AUSTIN, Texas - After a weekend tournament in Florida, the No. 10/11 Texas Softball team (21-3) returned home for a difficult mid-week doubleheader against the No. 15/18 Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns at Red & Charline McCombs Field.
Wednesday night brought the second and third meetings between the two squads in the past five days. On Saturday in Kissimmee, the Longhorns won a 7-2 contest behind home runs from Taylor Thom, Kim Bruins and Mandy Ogle.
On Wednesday, UT continued its winning ways, sweeping the two games. In the first contest, a 9-4 victory, Blaire Luna pitched a complete game and improved to 10-0 on the season. Kim Bruins matched Luna's complete game with one of her own in a 7-1 Texas win in the nightcap.
This scheduling gave Texas a chance to see the same opponent in a format similar to that of a conference series. In addition, the Ragin' Cajuns faced Luna on Saturday, and the Texas offense saw three of Louisiana's pitchers in Florida.
Head coach Connie Clark appreciates facing the same team multiple times in a short span.
"We call it playing chess, just showing different things here and there," Clark said. "And that bodes well in getting us ready for conference play."
The Wednesday sweep came on the heels of a challenging weekend at the Citrus Classic in Kissimmee, Fla. UT went 3-2, with a 2-0 win over No. 15 Louisville, the win against Louisiana and a 2-1 comeback victory over Syracuse. Texas left Florida after a 9-7 loss to Fordham, but the Longhorns were clearly motivated to put that loss behind them Wednesday night.
"Playing after a loss, it can be hard," sophomore pitcher/outfielder Gabby Smith said. "We focus on having a short memory, learning from our mistakes, getting to the next game and focusing on that."
Texas has been able to set aside distractions and focus on games against ranked competition. This season, the Longhorns are 5-1 against ranked teams. The ability to compete against highly ranked teams is beneficial in a challenging conference like the Big 12.
Despite the 21-3 start, the players understand there will be peaks and valleys during the next two months, but are all excited for the challenge.
"We will definitely have some ups and downs. The great teams are the ones that can be consistent," Thom said. "We can always work on consistency. We can be great when we put everything together."
As the season progresses, the Longhorns will move into the three-game series format, starting this weekend with Texas State and continuing into conference play. Competing against opponents three times in three days will reveal a lot about the character of the 2013 team.
"In my opinion, for us to get back to the Women's College World Series, we need to be exceptional when we are playing the same opponent again," Clark said.
The team welcomes the challenge even if it comes with adversity.
"We just have to remind each other we might be tired and we might have a bad game. But it's about being relentless and having one heartbeat as a team," Smith said.