No. 6 softball enters Hilton Houston Plaza Invitational undefeated

Jori Epstein

Texas’ lucky number is six these days. 

Sixth in the national polls. Six wins in six games this year. Six runs in its last win. And Taylor Hoagland, who wears No. 6 on her jersey, is six runs away from the Texas career runs record Lexy Bennett currently holds. But now the Longhorns are looking beyond their comfort zone for game seven, competing in their first away games of the season at the Hilton Houston Plaza Invitational.

“We’re working forward going into another tournament this weekend and I plan to give all four pitchers looks this weekend,” head coach Connie Clark said. “I’d love to see all four be able to contribute. Especially in tournaments of five games in three days, it’s nice to have a solid staff.”

The Longhorns play DePaul and Illinois on Friday, Illinois and Houston on Saturday and DePaul again on Sunday for the tournament. The Longhorns are 6-0 all-time against the Blue Demons and won 11-3 in a five-inning victory March 17, 2011 in their last meeting. Texas has never faced the Fighting Illini, but it holds a 38-35 record against current Big Ten conference teams.      

Defensively, the team’s .964 fielding percentage hurts opposing batters, as freshman pitcher Holly Kern (2-0) attributes her confidence and success to teammates who “make a great play to keep the ball infield or a diving catch in the outfield.”          

Offensively, Texas has won 91 percent of games since 2010 when scoring a run in the first inning. Freshman Stephanie Ceo threatens pitchers with a .667 batting average to dominate the team’s .345 for the season. The team’s batting average reaches .373 when up to the plate with two outs, coming in 20 of 38 season runs from those plays.

“I think that tells you we’re in a great warrior kind of mindset,” Clark said of the two-out runs. “They continue to play and that’s what we ask our athletes to do — to get to the next pitch — and we’re scoring with it.” 

Published on February 15, 2013 as "Horns head to Houston, face tough tourney tests".