The Texas offense is more than just power hitting. The No. 6 Longhorns proved this weekend that aggressive play and smart decisions on the base path make the usual high-scoring games possible.
“It is early in the season where we need to get those live reads,” said Texas head coach Connie Clark of reading the opposing offense while on base. “We have a high percentage of kids that have great speed and great intelligence on the bases and we like to take advantage of that ... we did well with that this weekend.”
During game two on Saturday, the Longhorns had a season-high six stolen bases, three of them belonging to junior Taylor Hoagland, a career single-game high. With this, Hoagland sits at fifth in the Texas record books for career stolen bases with sophomore teammate Brejae Washington right behind her at sixth.
While the number of stolen bases may not seem like an important statistic, it’s because of this that Texas had the capability of scoring so many runs. Texas put up an impressive 14 runs against an overmatched Sam Houston State team. Although the three home runs and 17 hits captured everyone’s attention, many of those runs would not have been possible without smart base running.
In game two, both Hoagland and Washington were on base when senior second baseman Lexy Bennett stepped up to the plate. A double steal on the base path made it possible for Bennett’s sacrifice fly to deep center field to score the first run of the afternoon.
“Any extra base you can take, of course you’re going to want to take that,” Washington said. “With being an aggressive base runner, a ball in the dirt for me is a green light. You can’t just right off the top go, you have to read it early and that is kind of what I do.”
Aggressive play by the Longhorns goes beyond stolen bases. This weekend saw the Longhorns attacking the plate no matter the count — getting runs whenever possible. Many of the runs against the Bearkats came with two outs on the board.
“That was one thing we talked about,” said Clark. “We know we can run on most teams and obviously we had success with that. We are going to come out and attack right away.”
Going into this weekend, the Texas coaching staff was concerned that after a busy last two weeks, the energy level of the Longhorns would not be enough to continue the Longhorn’s aggressive winning streak. They did not need to worry however, five games in California last weekend followed by a double header this past Wednesday was not enough to keep the Longhorns from sweeping this weekend’s three-game series.
“I thought our energy was great,” said Clark. “We have been talking about that all week. I keep wanting to get to the next day to see how their energy level is because it has been a heavy stretch for us. Even after a tough practice [on Thursday] they came out ready to go.”