Texas softball wasted no time jumping into the thick of competition Friday night, playing both Colorado State and No. 14 Minnesota in successive matchups at home.
The double header opened with a shutout mercy rule victory over CSU, with junior pitcher Paige von Sprecken striking out six while twirling a three hitter. Junior Kristen Clark came in to close the game in the fifth inning to complete the shutout and seal the 8-0 victory.
While senior Tiarra Davis stands out as the core of the pitching staff, head coach Connie Clark has confidence in all of her pitchers.
“I love the diversity within the staff,” Clark said. “Obviously, having two lefties and three righties is absolutely a luxury and you’ll see all five of them this weekend, and I think the vision is to get all five of them to start. All five of them will also come into a ball game just to kind of identify their roles and see how those play out. They just offset each other well in terms of their styles. So we’ll keep five happy and we’ll keep them rolling.”
The Longhorns dominated in both facets of the game against Colorado State. The team scored eight runs with RBI doubles by both junior Randel Leahy and Davis. Also getting in on the offense was senior Kelli Hanzel, who walked twice and scored a run. Hanzel feels good about where the team’s offense is to start the season.
“I think as an offense we look really strong,” Hanzel said. “We do have a new hitting coach, and I think we’ve done a really good job trying to figure out what he’s teaching us and everything like that. I think our lineup looks really solid as well.”
In the second game of the double header, the team did not fare as well against the No. 14 Minnesota Golden Gophers, losing 5-2. Junior Erica Wright started the game, and the nerves got to her early, as she allowed four walks in the first inning. Wright said that she’ll bounce back from early-season jitters as the year progresses.
“Yeah, I definitely had to get out those first-game jitters, if you didn’t notice. But it was nice, and I’m glad that by the second and third inning I was able to settle in — and you know what, I’m ready for the rest of the season,” Wright said. “Just had to get that out of the way.”
The team had two errors and several other issues on defense against the Golden Gophers, but tomorrow has the opportunity for redemption. Coach Clark knows these early season gaffes can be corrected as early as today’s matchups versus Minnesota and Maryland.
“The crazy thing is, as ugly as we were on some of the free passes from the circle and on defense balls coming off gloves, we were still in the game at the very end,” Clark said. “We’ve got to shore those things up.”