The Longhorns get to play two games Wednesday against Incarnate Word at McCombs Field. Texas defeated the Cardinals in the very first game of the season, 2-0, and look to make it three in a row against the Cardinals after Wednesday.
The doubleheader comes after an incredibly disappointing series sweep at the hands of Oklahoma this past weekend in Norman. As the season comes to a close, the Longhorns (28–21, 10–6 Big 12) cannot afford to drop another game if they want to make the postseason.
“You can’t stay down too long,” Texas head coach Connie Clark said. “You have to keep figuring out how to reset and how to grow and get better.”
The last four games of the season will play a crucial role in determining whether the Longhorns can compete for a College World Series. While the doubleheader against the 13–30 Cardinals could give Texas two free nonconference wins, the team will still have to carry any momentum into the final series against the No. 19 Baylor Bears.
“We can’t take teams lightly just because they’re not in conference,” senior ace pitcher Paige von Sprecken said. “We need to make sure we’re playing Texas softball and not playing to levels of our opponent, especially if we want to win a Big 12 championship.”
Not only will the offense look to get back on track against Incarnate Word, but the Longhorns’ two aces will have a chance to right the ship after troubling performances last weekend. Von Sprecken and junior ace Brooke Bolinger both recorded losses in the series and failed to compete well against top teams.
Texas is still in a position to make the tournament because of a hot stretch in the middle of the season that yielded a record of 14–2, but the Longhorns are still on the bubble.
“Playing those nonconference games definitely helps us when we are playing top-tier teams,” von Sprecken said. “It forces us to compete so that we can bring that compete factor into Big 12 games.”
It has certainly been a very long season, filled with ups and downs, learning curves and growing pains for a young roster. All the hard work Texas has put in thus far will either pay off or fall short, depending on the team’s performance over the next week. For a team that started off with championship hopes, there is still time to regain that kind of confidence.
“I think we have high expectations,” Clark said. “I think they have a good sense of reality and understand that it’s about the whole season, not what we are going to do this weekend or the next two weekends.”