Kansas series about gaining momentum for Longhorns

Steve Helwick

The Longhorns will return to Big 12 action this weekend, after wiping out Texas Southern in a 6-0 shutout Wednesday night.

The Longhorns will test their four-game winning streak against Big 12 rival Kansas in a three-game series that begins at McCombs Field on Saturday. The Kansas Jayhawks sit one place below Texas in the conference standings, sporting a 4-5 conference and a 27-16 overall record.

“It will be a great matchup,” said head coach Connie Clark, following her 800th career victory on Wednesday night. “They compete hard. One thing I love is that our conference is at a competitive standpoint. It doesn’t matter if you’re at home or on the road.”

However, Texas’ home record of 21-4 is marginally superior to Kansas’ road record of 4-9. The Jayhawks most recently competed on April 24, dropping the third-consecutive game of a series at Baylor.

During their 2015 home series against Texas, the Jayhawks lost all three games, conceding an average of eight runs per game. Texas has been scoring well recently, posting at least five runs on the scoreboard in their last three matchups.

“Kansas, they’re fighters,” senior second baseman Stephanie Ceo said. “From inning one to inning seven, they’re going to try to take any momentum that they can. Our job is to keep making the great plays we’ve been making on defense and to keep swinging it like we have been in the box.”

Before the series commences, Texas has eight regular season games remaining before the NCAA Regionals begin in late May. The 2015 Longhorns were 37-15 entering the postseason last year. Currently 31-13, Texas’ next seven games are against programs with lower winning percentages, a key element that could provide Texas with momentum entering the postseason.

“We want to come out and win all three of the games,” freshman outfielder Reagan Hathaway said. “[We want to] keep playing like we have been because that’s going to take us into postseason, and we want to be hot going into that.”

To gain admission into the field of 64 at NCAA Regionals, college softball teams must win their conference or receive a bid based on high RPI, a statistic that ranks teams based on their record and strength of schedule. 

Texas is currently No. 32 in the nation in RPI, while Kansas slightly trails behind at No. 42. As May draws near, teams advance their competitiveness to elevate this number, which represents the most pivotal statistic in softball.

“Everybody’s fighting for RPIs right now,” Clark said. “And Kansas is no different.”