Knocking Louisville out of park with power

Sara Beth Purdy

Home runs are a rare occurrence in college softball. Even rarer is when a team can produce multiple throughout a weekend, much less in one game. This weekend, Texas went beyond expectations by tallying eight home runs that accounted for 17 total points.

“It is fairly rare,” said Texas head coach Connie Clark. “You never go up to the plate trying to hit a home run. You go up to the plate trying to get the pitch that you want to hit, and if you end up squaring up and it gets out, then that’s icing on the cake.”

Sophomore Taylor Hoagland led the Texas offense this weekend. She alone accounted for half of the home runs produced by Texas, and picked up 11 RBIs. During the championship game on Sunday, Hoagland stepped up to the plate with bases loaded and cleared the back fence by at least 50 feet for a grand slam, the first of the season.

“There’s no secret,” she said. “I just stay focused. I can’t really tell you where it comes from — legs, I guess.”

Hoagland wasn’t the only one with a homer — freshman Taylor Thom, sophomore Lexy Bennett, junior Nadia Taylor and senior Amy Hooks each hit one over the weekend. None of the shots were in doubt as they all cleared the back fence by at least 10 feet.

Home runs were especially significant during the championship game on Sunday afternoon. Out of the 14 points scored by Texas, eight came from the three homers that the team hit in the second inning. Both Taylor and Thom’s blasts each brought in a second runner, with Hoagland’s grand slam capping it off. The nine runs helped seal the ball game and bring it to an early end as the result of a mercy-run rule.

“When I am at the plate, I just relax. I don’t think about anything,” Thom said. “When you hit it and it’s gone, you know it’s gone, it’s the [most] perfect feeling ever.”

Taylor also attributed the increase in home runs to the Texas fan base.

“It’s a great feeling,” Taylor said. “It’s awesome to feel your fans yelling and screaming [for you] and to feel your teammates coming to pat you on your head.”

Texas proved it had batting power over the weekendh. Clark described it differently: pride, saying each batter wants to prove that they have the stuff to hit it high and long.