“Grit” is defined as the perseverance and passion for long-term goals.
It’s been the Longhorns’ motto throughout the season, and they’ll continue to show grit as they prepare for their last three-game series against No. 17 Baylor before the Big 12 postseason tournament.
“It’s a big series for us and it really has big implications for us going into the postseason,” head coach Connie Clark said. “Definitely no motivational speech needed — it comes down to this, so let’s go have some fun with it.”
Junior catcher Randel Leahy had been working all season to hit a homerun during a game, and even as she blasted a ball deep into left field against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Wednesday night, she remained patient.
“I kind of held my breath a little bit to make sure it wasn’t a foul, because I tend to pull a lot of pitches,” Leahy said. “It was great, I caught myself smiling around the bases. It was a good feeling.”
Leahy’s first homerun of the season during Wednesday night’s game exemplifies the amount of grit she’s shown this season. Her determination for improvement at the plate brought her back into the batting lineup as one of the top hitters, leading with a .478 average over the past 10 games with five runs scored, five extra-base hits and nine RBIs.
The Longhorn pitching staff has also recently been reaping the benefits from the perseverance they’ve shown throughout the year. Texas’ pitchers are currently riding a four-game shutout streak — that’s 28.1 scoreless innings of dominance from the mound.
Junior Erica Wright leads the way with 13 shutout innings, while senior Tiarra Davis has seven, sophomore Brooke Bolinger has six, and juniors Kristen Clark and Paige Von Sprecken combine for the rest. The last time the Longhorns had four straight shutouts was in February of 2013.
“Kansas was a big opener for us,” Leahy said. “We really opened up our bats and I think the team saw how good we really are when we put it all together. I think that showed us, ‘Wow, we can do this.’”
But it wasn’t the first time Texas proved that they could compete. On Feb. 25, Texas defeated No. 11 Tennessee, a team that currently has over 40 wins. Although the Longhorns haven’t defeated a ranked opponent since, they’ll have one more opportunity to build up optimal confidence for the Big 12 Tournament by winning a big series against No. 17 Baylor this weekend.
“I think it would give us swagger going into Big 12 tournament and regionals (if we won Baylor),” Leahy said. “I think it would just give us kind of a chip on our shoulder.”