Texas softball faces tough road in weeks ahead

Jason Epstein

Throwing out the first pitch Thursday night in Cathedral City, California, No. 25 Texas softball kicks off its five-game stint in the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic against No. 8 Georgia. This marks the third of five straight tournaments in which the Longhorns will compete.

After a 7–3 record to start the year, Texas cracked the USA Today/NFCA polls at No. 25, joining two other Big 12 schools — No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 7 Baylor.

With the success so far, Texas hopes to keep progressing in the upcoming games.

“We’ll just keep rolling into next week,” junior first baseman Holly Kern said after the Longhorns’ 11–4 victory over Colorado State on Sunday. “We are going to see some good teams out in California, so it will be a good challenge.”

Kern posted a stellar performance in the Texas Classic. She recorded 15 RBIs, scored four runs, hit three doubles and added a home run to bring her batting average up to .367.

Swinging strong for the Longhorns, sophomore infielder Kelli Hanzel has hit .545 over the past five games with three RBIs, three runs and two doubles. Sophomore outfielder Stephanie Wong and junior catcher Erin Shireman lead the team with .414 batting averages each. Wong has also already stolen five bases, while Shireman has hit three over the fence.

Delivering all around offensively as a team, the Longhorns bat .338 and have outscored their opponents, 79–42. Texas is tied for the third-best start in program history for the number of home runs hit in the first 10 games of a season, as they have already launched 10.

From the circle, sophomore pitcher Tiarra Davis continues to establish a dominant presence as the primary pitcher. Davis went 3–0 with 15 strikeouts last weekend with a couple of starts, as well as a relief showing. Sophomore pitcher Lauren Slatten has the lowest ERA of the four pitchers, and freshman pitchers Erica Wright and Kristen Clark have each shown sparks of greatness in their early performances. As a team, Texas maintains a 3.17 ERA and has recorded 59 strikeouts, 26 of which Wright has recorded.

After its match against No. 8 Georgia, Texas will play No. 12 UCLA, and, before the tournament ends, it will play two more ranked teams — No. 18 Missouri and No. 24 Notre Dame.