After taking part in four games over just two days last weekend, the Longhorns had only one day of practice before they begin competition in the St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitation in Florida on Thursday.
Through its first slate of games, Texas held true to its preseason goals by staying aggressive on the plate and the pitcher’s mound. And while the Longhorns enter Thursday’s game with a 4–0 record, they plan to continue falling back on their discipline.
“Aggression all comes down to the confidence we have in ourselves,” All-American second baseman Janae Jefferson said.
The primary focus of the Longhorns right now is to bring aggression to every aspect of their play. Whether it is defensively on base or offensively at bat, both head coach Mike White and players have stressed the importance of stepping up their game with a newfound confidence to get the results they want.
“We wanna score runs, a lot of runs. said Reagan Hathaway, a center fielder who made her comeback debut last weekend after sitting out most of the previous season recovering from an ACL injury. “Being aggressive is a big part of that, so it’s just a focus of taking the next base if you can, tagging up if you can, being aggressive early in the count, hunting your pitch, not letting all the good ones go by.”
In the first weekend of play, Texas scored 32 runs in all while winning by run-rule in three of the four games — an accomplishment the Longhorns only achieved five times all of last season.
“(Our offense) has come alive this season, and I feel like that has something to do with the coaching staff that’s been brought in,” Jefferson said.
The knowledge White has brought to Texas gives the team an intensity and energy necessary for its success in this weekend’s tournament, where a higher level of competition is anticipated. The Longhorns will face teams from the SEC, which includes LSU and Kentucky.
Texas and LSU met previously during a fall season tournament in Houston where LSU fell to the Longhorns, 8-6, in nine innings. White gives credit to LSU’s quick-paced play and pitching depth in the high-intensity matchup, and highlights LSU’s Amanda Sanchez, who currently holds a .692 batting average, as a big threat.
As for Kentucky, White anticipates a different challenge, however, based on the Wildcats’ style of play. He pulls from his experience facing them last year as the head coach at Oregon in order to prepare for what they might see on the field in Clearwater.
“We got a long way to go and we know that but … we have to be confident we can play with the best and the only way you find out is by facing them,” White said.