In the first game against a ranked opponent, Texas showed its first sign of weakness this season. The Longhorns could not get the bats going, and No. 8 LSU jumped on every opportunity, hitting two homers en route to a 7-1 victory.
It was the first true test for a Texas team that had yet to be accurately measured this season. In the first game of the day, the Longhorns continued their dominant streak, winning 5-1 over Florida Atlantic, a game in which pitcher Shealyn O’Leary threw all seven innings and struck out six.
In the Longhorns’ first six games, the offense put up 47 runs, having no trouble at the plate. But LSU pitcher Shelby Wickersham was not afraid of the tough Texas lineup.
Wickersham was dealing on Friday, throwing 5.1 innings and allowing just a single run to score in the sixth. While the Longhorns were able to put runners on, she threw her way out of several jams as Texas left 11 runners on base. It was just the second time this season that Texas was forced to play from a deficit, and the first time the deficit was more than one.
“Athletically, we’re the same as any other team in the country,” Texas head coach Mike White said before the weekend’s tournament. “A lot of it is mental, our approach. Do we really believe we can win? Do we believe that with the hard work, doing some things a little differently, can we get to the top?”
Texas picked up seven hits on the day, but only drew two walks, something that is a point of emphasis for this new coaching staff.
“There’s a fine line between being aggressive and too aggressive,” White said. “One of the things we’d noticed with the team last year is they weren’t taking a lot of walks, (but) they were getting too aggressive … we want to still stay in the strike zone.”
The pitching staff also bucked the trend of dominance that was on display early this season. With a combined four runs scored against the pitching staff in the first six games of the year, Brooke Bolinger allowed just one earned run in eight innings heading into her second start on the mound against LSU.
Yet the Tigers peppered Bolinger, running her out of the game with no outs in the third inning after she had already thrown 60 pitches and given up three runs. Pitcher Ariana Adams finished the final four innings, but the damage was already done. After a three-run homer in the fifth inning, the seven-run deficit was too much to overcome.
Another test looms Saturday, as No.18 Kentucky is coming off back-to-back run-rule wins. The Longhorns will hope to reignite the bats in their second straight ranked matchup.