The conference championship is what defines every team’s season, and that defining moment for Texas is essentially on the line this weekend in Missouri.
These two softball powerhouses sit even atop the Big 12 standing going into this series, and since no other team is within striking distance of these two, this pair of games will decide it.
“I think it’s definitely going to be a big weekend for both teams,” said sophomore Blaire Luna. “I think we’re really pumped up to be in this situation. We’ll be practicing hard all week for it because this is what we’ve worked for and talked about.”
Coming into the series, Missouri might have the edge in momentum because they are coming off five straight wins, and Texas is coming off a tough loss to Texas A&M on Wednesday. That loss could be indicating a little slippage for Texas after it started off hot in Big 12 play at 11-0.
However, the Longhorns are still the defending Big 12 champions and have no interest in relinquishing the crown.
“Last year, we got to light the Tower orange for the Big 12 championship, and that was awesome to be there with our family and friends, and that’s something were looking to do this year for sure,” said senior Raygan Feight.
Texas won the title last year based on its tournament mettle, earning the title after a strong run. But this year, the championship will not be decided in that way, as this year’s Big 12 season will not have a
tournament. The coaches decided the tournament hurt the athletes academically, being so close to finals, so they got rid of it.
But the team doesn’t mind, and they should benefit from the extra rest that comes with the lack of a tournament. One of the main reasons the Longhorns fell in the regional round last year was that the team was just worn down at the end of the year, especially in the pitching staff.
“It is something different we’re not going to have to go through,“ Feight said. “I feel it’s kind of a good thing because our bodies are going to get to rest, and we’ll have time before regionals to recuperate before we get ready to go again.”
The games in Missouri will be tough this weekend with so much on the line and will most likely come down to pitching with two of the best hurlers in the country in the circle. Chelsea Thomas for Missouri and Luna for Texas, who are neck-and-neck at the topof the Big 12 statistically in all of the pitching key categories, including wins, strikeouts and ERA.
Even if Luna does struggle in this pitching matchup of Titans as she did against A&M on Wednesday, the team knows that the defense will be there to pick her up and make plays to save runs like they have all year.
“I think the defense really adds to Blaire’s success. You see a lot of numbers that she puts up, but you don’t realize the catches that were made for those numbers,” said senior Amy Hooks. “I think that confidence shows in our record and when we go on the field. If they do have Blaire, we have nine other players to back her up.”