Going toe-to-toe with ranked teams takes endurance, skill and willpower. All three aspects were on display at McCombs Field on Friday night as the Longhorns beat Oklahoma State, 3-0, in the first game of a doubleheader, then lost 3-1 in the second.
Friday’s games were the 14th and 15th Texas has played against a ranked opponent this season. The Longhorns are now 5–10 against ranked competition. Both games were pitching duels and featured standout performances from the teams’ aces.
Junior ace Brooke Bolinger started in game one, pitching another complete game while collecting her season-high and career-high in strikeouts with 11.
“Going in and figuring out the umpire’s strike zone was the main thing,” Bolinger said. “He wasn’t giving the outside corner, so we had to figure out another game plan. Once we figured it out, we got the strikes that we needed at timely times.”
Bolinger finished the game with a nifty fielding play off of a bunt in the top of the seventh. It was her 11th win of the season, building on an already very strong campaign.
Senior ace Paige von Sprecken started the second game and picked up her eighth loss of the season. Despite a middling 10–8 record, she has still been incredibly solid for the Longhorns this year.
Texas has played 12 non-conference teams that are ranked, compared to only three matchups versus ranked Big 12 teams. Those games against quality opponents have been a large reason the Longhorns have gone 10–2 in Big 12 play this season.
“Playing those non-conference games definitely helped us because we were playing top-tier teams,” von Sprecken said. “It forced us to compete so that we could bring that compete factor into Big 12.”
Offensively, the first game started with a solo shot from junior captain Bekah Alcozer in the bottom of the second which put the Longhorns up early. The lead later grew to three runs on an RBI single by freshman Janae Jefferson in the bottom of the fifth inning.
In the second game, Texas only managed a single run on a hit-by-pitch by freshman MK Tedder with the bases loaded. Missed opportunities and unforced errors resulted in the close loss.
“Obviously, it was a tale of two games,” Texas head coach Connie Clark said. “We were pretty bang-bang out of the gate in the first game, then turned on cruise control and you just can’t do that.”
Texas and Oklahoma State will not play Saturday due to weather concerns, so the finale of the series will be on Sunday at 11 a.m. — Senior Day for the Longhorns.