Longhorns finish game in third with mercy rule

Sara Beth Purdy

Early season tournaments are meant to prepare a team for the rigors of their conference schedule and postseason, but at this rate, all Texas is learning to do is go home early.

The Longhorns (6-0) finished their third straight game in the fifth inning because of the NCAA’s mercy rule, beating Wisconsin 15-1 on Thursday at McCombs Field in the opening round of the Time Warner Cable Texas Invitational.

Texas accomplished all this with just 18 base runners and 23 at-bats. The Longhorns are beating opponents by an average of 9.32 runs per contest.

“It gets us really hyped when we can all [play] a part and score a lot of runs,” said Texas freshman Brejae Washington. “We have 43 runs in three games. It’s really good to know that everyone is on offensively.”

Washington, along with sophomore Taylor Hoagland, led the Texas offense against Wisconsin. Both hitters were perfect during their at-bats, going a combined 5-for-5 with five hits and five runs.

Seniors Amy Hooks and Shelby Savony each got home runs for Texas.

“Hopefully [the offense] continues to look that good,” said Texas head coach Connie Clark. “We had some great at-bats early and [were able to work] really deep in the counts, and when we get to see a lot of pitches, that helps us.”

The Texas pitching staff, led by sophomore Blaire Luna, started off slow in the first inning but quickly demolished any hope Wisconsin had of coming back. After sending four batters up to face Luna in the first inning, the Badgers sent the minimum up to bat the rest of the game. In four innings of work, Luna had seven strikeouts against 13 batters.

“Blaire did a great job; she made some adjustments and we talked about some things between the innings, specifically where the Wisconsin hitters were setting up in the box against her,” Clark said. “It’s always that game within the game. You want to make the in-game adjustments that you need to, and she was able to do that immediately into the second inning and had success.”

At the top of the fifth inning, sophomore reliever Kim Bruins came in and logged two strikeouts of her own without giving up a hit in her first outing for the season. The Texas pitchers struck out nine of the 16 batters they faced on Thursday.

Texas started out fast and finished fast, a good sign for the team as it prepares for its second-round matchup with Missouri State on Friday night.

“Today before we started the game, our chant was to start fast,” Hooks said. “We want to start fast, and we want to jump on them early and not wait until later in the game to score runs.”