Longhorns should use veteran leadership to their advantage


Sam Ortega

Shortstop Taylor Thom takes a swing at bat during last weekend’s game. Thom is one of many veteran leaders for Texas.

Garrett Callahan

If there is one thing that people can say is wrong with this Texas team, it definitely can’t be leadership.

The Longhorns are coming off a seven-game winning streak in which they claimed their first three games of Big 12 play. Needless to say, Texas’ veteran players had a large part to do with those wins.

The Longhorns’ have only eight upperclassmen on their roster, four of whom are seniors. Despite this low number they still continue to produce solid numbers each game.

Four of these upperclassmen hold top spots in the Longhorns’ statistics this season thus far — senior Taylor Hoagland, junior Taylor Thom, junior Brejae Washington and senior Blaire Luna.

Hoagland sits atop six of the 13 offensive leader spots for her team, including batting average (.463), runs scored (38) and slugging percentage (89%). For the month of March, the Flower Mound native is batting .465, has 18 runs while driving in 12 and hit six home runs. On top of that she leads all Division 1 players in on-base percentage (.646). 

Another offensive trailblazer is Thom. Thom has 40 hits on the season with nine of those being home runs. She also leads the Longhorns in RBIs (40). But the biggest impact of the junior has been her consistency.

Thom has been a force at the plate all season for Texas. Her extra-base hits this season have already tied two NCAA records — a record of three doubles in a single game in late February and a two-grand-slam and eight-RBI performance earlier that month.

Luna is also once again having an outstanding season at the mound. After finishing third in the nation in strikeouts per seven innings (10.6) last year, the Austin native leads the Big 12 in three categories this season so far — wins (16), batting average against (.110) and strikeouts (208) — giving the Longhorns the defensive power they need.

This leadership acts as a perfect example for the younger players on this Texas team. Underclassmen such as freshman Stephanie Ceo have looked up to these veterans for advice and encouragement and have improved in the last few games.  

Ceo, who sparked two rallies with hits off  two of the best pitchers in the league last week against Baylor, has continually used the older players on the team to her advantage. She frequently bounces ideas off them and uses their encouraging words to make herself better.

These veterans have also shown that hard work will pay off even in slumps. Thom came into her sophomore season with high expectations but failed to meet a lot of them. She had an unproductive year compared to her freshman year with only 28 RBIs and seven stolen bases but came back this season after an intense offseason producing those customary results.

The Longhorns should continue to use this leadership to their benefit, not only learning from the veterans’ mistakes but also improving off their accolades. If that happens, Texas will continue to be one of the most unstoppable teams in college softball right now.