Goodbye California beaches, hello Arizona deserts.
The Longhorns travel to Tuscon this weekend to take on the No. 6 Arizona Wildcats, a week after competing in the Mary Nutter Classic in Cathedral City, California.
The Longhorns took on several ranked teams to start the season, but none as highly ranked as Arizona. Head coach Connie Clark knows the road trip will be a challenge, as the Wildcats are one of the most balanced teams in the nation.
“Arizona is going to be tough, and it’s on their turf,” Clark said. “They’ve got a real balanced team, they’ve got a lot of speed, they’ve got power, they’ve got great pitching. On their turf, it’s going to be a big challenge.”
Clark stresses the fact that no matter who the team plays, it has to be ready for anything. Whether the Longhorns stack up against a top-10 opponent or a struggling one, Clark always expects the highest level of competition from her team.
“You don’t have an easy opponent out there regardless of who you’re facing,” Clark said. “It looks great on paper, but we’ve got to go out and compete and it really doesn’t matter what the poll says. We’ve got to go out and compete day in and day out.”
The team is coming off three straight losses — two to ranked teams and one to underdog Texas State on Wednesday. But senior Tiarra Davis sees something special in the team even when it’s losing.
“Something that I learned about this team is our grit and our will to fight even when we’re down in ball games,” Davis said. “We never quit. Seeing that we can compete with some of the best teams in the country so early is something that is really good for our underclassmen to see, because that shows that we haven’t peaked yet, and that the sky’s the limit.”
Grit and mental toughness will be the key to success this season, and Davis knows that’s especially important on the road.
Davis and the Longhorns look to battle in the first game of their three-game series against the Wildcats tonight at 7 p.m.
“Going to Arizona, it’s about grit and just wanting to win,” Davis said. “I feel like nobody really expects us to win when we go to Arizona, because they’re the No. 6 team in the nation, so it’s about just going out there and competing every pitch.”