Texas has the makings of a championship-contending squad: five pitchers — including two lefties — and seven total seniors, the most since 2005.
But right now, the Longhorns are in the midst of a six-game losing streak.
Four weeks ago, the Longhorns set goals. They wanted to score more than five runs in every game under new batting coach Tripp MacKay, take advantage of their depth in the bullpen, win a Big 12 Championship and take home their first NCAA championship rings.
Those are lofty aspirations for a team that has started the season with an 11–9 record. But there’s still time, and Texas has shown progress in ways that aren’t yet shown on the scoreboard.
Eight of Texas’ 14 opponents have 13 wins and six were ranked, including one-loss No. 5 Arizona this past weekend. Arizona currently holds the fourth lowest team ERA in the country at 0.94. But the Longhorns challenged that with two runs scored in the final game, the most senior Danielle O’Toole had given up in 61 innings.
“Our schedule to this point in the season may be the strongest one we’ve ever faced, so we just need to keep the faith regardless of what the record says,” head coach Connie Clark said.
The Longhorns are currently averaging 5.3 runs per game but have had trouble finding their ideal batting order. Texas has used 17 different batting lineups through the opening 20 games of the season, with the most consistent lineup being in the games against No. 15/13 Tennessee, No. 8/7 Washington and Texas State.
But good things are coming out of the bullpen.
Senior Tiarra Davis stands out as a leader, becoming the fourth pitcher in Texas history to throw 500 innings and looks to be the sixth to reach a 50-win mark against UTSA. Davis aided in victories over No. 24 Missouri and No. 14 Tennessee, averaging a 1.00 ERA for both. She currently stands at the top of the Texas charts with 29 strikeouts and a 2.65 ERA in 39.2 innings.
The youth in the bullpen has also posed a threat. Sophomore transfer Brooke Bolinger holds a 0.88 ERA in five appearances with only two earned runs. Bolinger relieved Davis on Sunday, recording zero earned runs, two walks and one hit in five innings. In addition, redshirt sophomore Erica Wright has averaged a 1.10 ERA in four appearances, with two earned runs in 12.2 innings.
The Longhorns will look to break their losing streak against UTSA at Red and Charline McCombs Field on Wednesday at 4 p.m.
“The process, the approach, the willingness to learn and the eagerness to come back and compete was pretty good,” Clark said. “That’s what we need to continue to be focused on and get back to work this week.”