Horns move up in polls after hot start

Sara Beth Purdy

Texas began the season No. 15 in both of the national softball polls despite the early exit in last season’s NCAA tournament. Last weekend, the Longhorns proved they deserved that ranking by plowing through five opponents by a combined score of 61-16. The most recent polls reflect voters’ higher view of Texas as the team rose to No. 13 in both polls to start the week.

Sophomore right fielder Taylor Hoagland led the Texas offense on opening weekend with a .667 batting average and four home runs. The team plans to continue that sort of long ball this week in the Time Warner Cable Texas Invitational, which starts this evening versus Wisconsin.

“I think our offense was impeccable [last] weekend,” Hoagland said. “Our defense did good and we have some things to work on, but our offense definitely shined through.”

The Longhorns will have new competition this weekend as three different teams travel to McCombs Field to participate in the tournament. Along with the Badgers, Missouri State and Colorado State will come to town. It’s another round of nonconference competition that the Longhorns hope prepares them for their Big 12 schedule, with six teams in the top 25.

“In conference, we are going to be facing a lot of different [teams] so being able to come to a tournament and play against four or five different [teams] it helps us so we don’t get comfortable with one,” said freshman outfielder Brejae Washington.

The Longhorns are 3-1 all-time against the Badgers who come into the weekend unranked. Round-robin play will continue Friday and Saturday when Texas faces both Missouri State and Colorado State for the first time in program history.

Aside from getting ready for league competition, playing multiple games in one weekend will also prepare the team for similar formats in the Big 12 and national tournaments at the end of the season.

“Just getting started, it’s important for us to come in and hit it hard,” said senior infielder Raygan Feight. “Coming and playing three different teams and a lot of different types of game plans, different hitters and pitchers; it gets us going in that direction of a [national title].”