Softball forges ahead with Saturday resolve
May 19, 2012
Natalie England, TexasSports.com
AUSTIN, Texas - There was no time to waste on Saturday afternoon for the Texas Longhorns, and that was a reality they embraced.
"We wanted to get things done," senior Nadia Taylor said. "We had business to handle."
Facing regional elimination for the third-straight year at Red & Charline McCombs Field, the Longhorns used a 6-1 win against Auburn and then run-ruled Houston 10-1 in the nightcap to break into Sunday's championship round against Northwestern.
UT needs a win in the noon contest to force a decisive seventh game of the regional later Sunday afternoon.
The Longhorns scored in the first inning to take early leads against both Auburn and Houston after getting shut out by Northwestern 2-0 on Friday evening.
"What stands out the most is just the resiliency this group showed. They were ready to go," head coach Connie Clark said.
Clark said UT's three seniors -- Taylor, Lexy Bennett and Courtney Craig -- were integral in organizing the team's mindset. The senior trio called a team meeting, and what resulted was a "no fear attitude," according to Taylor.
"We didn't take a pitch off," Taylor said.
With almost three minutes remaining before the scheduled 6:01 p.m. first pitch in the second game, leadoff hitter Taylor Hoagland was already poised and ready near the batter's box. Clark had to pull Hoagland into a preemptive, time-killing chat along the third-base line.
Hoagland then brought that patience into her at-bat. She drew a walk, and scored almost immediately when Bennett launched a home run high over the left field wall to give UT a 2-0 lead.
Kim Bruins, who earned the start at first base, battled through 12 pitches later in the inning before sending a long sacrifice fly to left field, which scored Craig for a 3-0 lead.
Despite playing in their home facility, the Longhorns looked at being the "visitor" and first to the plate in the opening inning as an advantage.
"Coach Clark said multiple times, `We're scoring first, we're scoring first.' That kind of set the tone for the game," Bennett said.
The Longhorns know they'll need a replicate this determined focus if they're to win a pair Sunday and advance to a super regional. The Longhorns have shown the ability, through the course of the season, to find a resolve with their backs to the wall.
After a dropping a 9-0 loss at Texas A&M on April 26, UT bounced back two days later with an emotional 7-6 comeback victory. The Aggies took a 6-1 lead into the bottom of the fifth inning, before UT exploded for four runs and then scored two more in the bottom of the seventh for the walk-off win.
The Longhorns again came from behind in a 4-3 win in the third game the next day to take the series win.
So, the Longhorns' game plan for Sunday against Northwestern is basically just more of the same.
"We have to keep the same mindset, keep our same goals which are to win every inning. Just get it done," Taylor said.