Longhorns open conference play at Baylor

Isabel Miller

The Longhorns have one goal going into conference play — prove them wrong.

Texas starts Big 12 play at Baylor Friday night, and despite the preseason rankings which placed Texas 3rd in the conference, the team’s goal remains a conference title.  But not only is it their goal, they expect it.  

Head coach Connie Clark said that her team has developed a “chip on their shoulder” mentality. Senior centerfielder Lindsey Stephens said she’s always loved being in the underdog role.

“It’s just because people play you easy,” Stephens said. “Since they are ranked above you, they think ‘Oh we deserve this win.’”

Clark said she’s expecting big things from junior pitcher Tiarra Davis in the circle. Davis sits fourth in the conference with a 1.64 ERA and has struck out a team-high 84 batters.

“She’s throwing the best she has in her career,” Clark said. “With single games, we can use her a lot”.

On the offensive end, the Longhorns haven’t had problems hitting the ball, but scoring runs has been another story. Texas is second in the Big 12 with a .312 batting average, but is fifth with 139 runs scored.

Clark, however, said they’re going to be focused on what they’re doing at the plate rather than what Baylor is doing.

“It doesn’t matter who’s wearing the shirts in the other dugout.” Clark said. “It’s going to come down to us and our execution.”

But the Longhorns’ opponent this weekend, Baylor, presents a challenge. The Bears lead the conference with 39 stolen bases and pitcher Heather Sterns leads the Big 12 with a 1.33 ERA and 106 strikeouts.

Clark expects Davis to combat their speed with her quickness and ability to limit the short game.

“She gives us an advantage because she’s a great athlete and defender as well,” Clark said.

Still, with everyone’s conference record set at 0-0, the Longhorns are heading into Big 12 play with high hopes.