No. 8 Texas looks at strength and improvements from weekend tournament

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The Longhorns are looking for their 13th win tonight against Texas State. Texas had one of its best starts to the season since head coach Connie Clark has been around, showing multiple strengths and very few weaknesses.

The Longhorns (12-1) won their first 10 of the season and beat two strong ranked opponents. Having broken two school records already, one for most runs in a single game and the other for most runs in the season opener, Texas has proven that it’s one of the strongest teams in the country. But what makes them so strong?

For one thing, the Longhorns are hard to stop on offense. For the first five games of the season, they outscored their opponents 60-0, and through the whole season so far they are outscoring their opponents 91-19. This means that through only 13 games they have scored nearly 100 runs while giving up less than 20.

Another strength to add onto this is the team’s mental attitude. Coach Clark pointed out in the beginning of the year that one of the team’s main focuses is their competitive spirit and consistency. Thus far, that has not been lacking. The Longhorns have scored more than half of their total run in the first three innings of their games. While coming out with a strong start is key, maintaining that start is just as important for them. The team is 7-0 when leading after four innings, 3-0 when leading after five and 5-0 when leading after six.

Also big for the Longhorns is the teamwork that they have on the field. There isn’t just one player on the team that sticks out and carries the team every game. Instead, every player has a key role in their wins. Every game there is a new hero or a new MVP that helps the team. Each player builds off the last at bat and bats in the runs when needed. When hitting zero home runs the Longhorns are 5-1, and when hitting only one home run they are 4-0, showing that they don’t need the big individual plays to carry them.

One last strength is pretty obvious: The team’s pitching staff is one of the best in the country. Having given up only 19 runs on the season, the pitching staff constantly shuts out its opponents. The average staff ERA is only 1.27 while their opponent’s is at 6.30. The most runs they have given up in a single game is only five, and that was to the top-ranked team in the country, Florida. Junior Blaire Luna leads the staff with six appearances, a 5-0 record and 52 strikeouts, which is more than half of the staff’s totals.

This past weekend was the first real test for the Longhorns as they played three top 25 teams including No. 1 Florida, No. 7 UCLA and No. 22 Nebraska teams. Winning two out of those three, they took a lot away from this test. In their loss against No. 1 Florida, they realized that there is still room to improve, and they carried that attitude into their next game against UCLA where they took the victory.

The first 13 games have shown a lot for Texas. While they are extremely happy with their play, they know they need to continue it and continue to meet their individual and team goals. Sophomore Rachel Fox feels this past weekend in California was a good learning experience for the team.

“Overall, this tournament was a good gauge to see where we are this early in the season and allowed us to see what areas we can improve on,” Fox said. “I am pleased and excited at where we stand after this weekend. Our individual goals were met, as well as our team goals.”

Printed on Wednesday, February 29, 2012 as: Impressive start is a product of consistency, many factors