Two down, four left to play for Longhorn softball as they continue to compete in the Mary Nutter Classic in Cathedral City, California.
The team played well in the opening day of the competition, beating Notre Dame in dramatic fashion. Senior shortstop Devon Tunning hit 2-for-4 with a home run in the nail-biting 4-3 win, while redshirt sophomore Erica Wright commanded six innings on the mound in the no decision.
The Longhorns snatched the win after the game ended on a bottom of the seventh bases loaded error by the Notre Dame defense. Sophomore center fielder Reagan Hathaway drew two walks during the game as a result of keeping her focus on only swinging at pitches in the zone.
“(We are) focusing on swinging at good pitches and really focusing on our approach at the plate and sticking to the plan that we have when we go up to bat,” Hathaway said. “Right now, our defense is coming along, but we can always make that better.”
Head coach Connie Clark expects her squad’s defensive approach to stay the same despite facing ranked opponents for the rest of the weekend.
“(The strategy is) hopefully not any different,” Clark said. “It needs to be about us and not necessarily our opponents. From an RPI (Rating Percentage Index) standpoint, it would be nice for us to get some of those ballgames, but you can’t control the outcome.”
The Longhorns look to come out with clutch game-winning moments in order to define their success as a team this season. Clark focuses inward on her squad’s style of execution both at the plate and on the mound.
“We talk a lot about that it’s about us executing a pitch, or executing the bunt or executing on defense or in the first and thirds and not as much about the scouting report,” Clark said. “That’s a little part of it but it’s really more about us and doing the things we need to so that’s usually how we go about business.”
Clark’s mindset has trickled down to the players — senior left fielder Stephanie Wong aims to practice the same way regardless of the opposition.
“In practice, doing the same things,” Wong said. “Just trying to focus and get the most out of every practice because we know we’ll be facing some really tough competition.”
Although the Longhorns have collected eight wins and only three losses to start the season, Clark makes it clear the team is anything but satisfied.
“Satisfied is relative,” Clark said. “I don’t think we’re satisfied by any stretch of the imagination. I like some of the growth things that we put together.”
The Longhorns resume play against Bethune-Cookman at 12:30 p.m. on Friday.