Ignoring other dugout key for Longhorns

Garrett Callahan

This weekend will be a test for Texas. Matched up against their school rival and with first place in the Big 12 on the line, the Longhorns will be put up to their biggest challenge of the year.

Texas, who currently sits atop the conference standings, will host No. 1 Oklahoma in a three-game series this weekend that will determine who will claim first place in the Big 12 with three weeks remaining in the regular season.

In order for Texas to win this series it has to forget one thing — who it is playing.

The Longhorns are entering this Red River Shootout with a 15-game winning streak, their last loss coming against No. 2 Arizona State more than a month ago. They are currently 8-0 in Big 12 play, the second-best start against conference foes in school history, behind only the 2011 squad, which started 12-0.

The top-ranked Sooners will be by far the toughest match this team has faced all season. Oklahoma is 37-2 and 6-0 in Big 12 play, losing only to Nebraska and Louisville, who are both in second place in their respective conferences.

The Longhorns don’t have a pretty past against No. 1-ranked foes as they are 3-11 all-time against top-ranked opponents. However, none of those have been against Big 12 opponents. The last time Texas won a game against a top-ranked opponent was in a 1-0 victory against Arizona in 2006.

This team of mixed veterans and youngsters needs to go into the weekend with a mindset of playing their own game. They have already proved that they can play with some of the best in the league; they now just need to go out there and do it.

“We understand it is important. We will have big crowds, and it’s a big rivalry. But at the same time, we know it is just another three-game series where we have to get our work done,” senior outfielder Torie Schmidt said.

While this weekend will most likely decide who wins the Big 12 regular season title, it undeniably does not decide their postseason fates. With seven games left after this series, the Longhorns know that the weekend will not be a definition of their work this year.

The Longhorns have all the components of a winning team — pitching, batting, defense, coaching and great team chemistry. This weekend will show how they use those advantages when needed the most.

“We do really try to focus on what we are doing and not get so consumed with who is in the other dugout,” head coach Connie Clark said. “We talk about that day in and day out, but the fine line of reality is it is OU.”

While obviously fired up, this should just be a normal weekend series in Austin, which is where the team does its best work.