Longhorns look to keep momentum up at Houston tournament

Isabel Miller

Five times the Longhorns fell behind in last weekend’s Texas Classic tournament.

Five times the Longhorns managed to walk off McCombs Field as the victors.

But as exciting as those come-from-behind wins might have been, the Longhorns will look to turn the page this weekend at the Hilton Houston Plaza Invitational.

“It gave us a lot of momentum, but we leave that behind us, look forward to this weekend and play one game at a time,” sophomore pitcher Paige von Sprecken said.

While the wins gave Texas a 5-0 record, they also revealed a number of things Texas needs to work on before conference play — especially pitching.

Playing without sophomore ace Erica Wright —  who’s out indefinitely with a rib injury — the Longhorns’ pitching staff had an inconsistent weekend. Sophomore pitcher Kristen Clark finished with a 0.62 ERA, and junior pitcher Tiarra Davis racked up 12 strikeouts. But the pitchers also allowed eight earned runs.

Head coach Connie Clark said she was proud of the way the pitchers performed overall, but overall they’re going to have to learn how to pitch by committee.

“It’s going to take a village,” Clark said. “We talked about that going in. You’re going to have to help each other out.”

Von Sprecken, who came through with the game-winning hit on Saturday, gave up two runs in nine innings of work. She said her biggest area for improvement is pitch control.

“They capitalized on when I made a mistake,” von Sprecken said. “If I can key in on that I’ll have a better weekend.”

The Longhorns’ pitchers will likely get a good chance to improve, facing Houston, Ball State and Toledo, all teams that haven’t impressed on offense this season. Ball State and Toledo scored just 14 and nine runs respectively last weekend, while Houston totaled just six extra base hits.

Von Sprecken said playing five games over three days will help their endurance for conference play.

“We just want to build our momentum,” von Sprecken said. “As pitchers we want to build our stamina up so that when we get into conference and it’s only one game a day, it’s easier to throw the full game.”