Prior to the season’s arrival, Texas head coach Connie Clark predicted the Longhorns would either surprise people or hit early-season turbulence thanks to her team’s youth. After a 2-2 stretch at the Texas Classic this weekend, it appears the Longhorns will do a little of each.
Coming off two strong victories against Incarnate Word and Wisconsin on Friday night, the Longhorns were unable to capitalize on their momentum on Saturday afternoon, dropping two games to Colorado State and Wisconsin.
“I think we were a little nervous,” Clark said. “We’ve talked a lot about how young we are and that the thing we’re looking for this weekend is how we reset.”
The Longhorns weren’t able to find their rhythm at the plate or in the pitcher’s circle in their first loss against Colorado State in a 6-2 defeat.
Colorado State struck first in the top of the second after a double and sacrifice fly led to a 1-0 lead. Freshman pitcher Chloe Romero then walked home a second run when the Longhorns faced a bases-loaded jam.
Texas responded with a pair of runs of its own in the bottom of the frame. Following a single from senior catcher Randel Leahy and a double by junior right fielder Bekah Alcozer, freshman second baseman Janae Jefferson continued her weekend hot streak by smacking an RBI double to score both runners.
Colorado State was able to retake a 3-2 lead in the top of the fourth when sophomore shortstop Hayley Donaldson singled down the first-base line.
The final blow for the Longhorns came in the top of the sixth when Colorado State senior pitcher Hannah McCorkhill drilled a three-run blast to left field off Texas junior pitcher Brooke Bolinger to give the Rams their 6-2 win.
The Longhorns failed to rebound in the second game of the day, losing to the Wisconsin Badgers in a close game in the frigid weather.
Junior pitcher Erica Wright started the game for Texas, collecting five strikeouts in her first start of the year. Wright carried a no-hitter into the fourth inning before giving up a single in the top of the fourth. Backing Wright up was sophomore shortstop Kaitlyn Slack, who drove in the first RBI of the game to put the Longhorns ahead early.
The youth of the team has been a major storyline this season, as a majority of the roster is composed of sophomores and freshman. With many players getting their first starting action during this weekend’s matchups, adjustments and coping with the excitement has been a major theme for the team.
“Yeah, I think that there were a lot of nerves,” junior catcher Reagan Hathaway said. “We’re a really young team, and we have a lot of new people starting. Once we get a couple of at-bats under our belts and feel more comfortable as a team on the field with the season starting, it’ll be really fun to watch us.”
The Longhorns had a chance to score some insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth, as freshman left fielder Kaitlyn Washington got to second base after a single and a passed ball. But the next two batters failed to bring
her to home.
Junior first baseman Stephanie Lombardo hit a three-run shot to put the Badgers up for good in the top of the eighth for their 7-3 victory over the Longhorns.
“I think more than anything we really have to stay together,” Clark said. “I think that’s the strength of this group. You gotta deal with stuff during a season. We were grasping for a couple things today.”