Sunny beaches, clear skies and Longhorn softball. All will be on display this weekend as the team travels to California to compete in the Mary Nutter Classic.
While the forecast shows plenty of sun throughout the weekend, there will be just as much Texas softball to go around in Cathedral City starting today at 5:30 p.m. CT. Texas squares off against Notre Dame in the first of six games to be played through Sunday.
After finishing strong in last weekend’s Texas Invitational with wins against Indiana and Louisiana Tech, the team looks to continue its hot start to the season. Sophomore outfielder Reagan Hathaway said even though the team is 7-3, there’s much to improve on.
“We’re happy with where we are right now, but we’re still perfecting our approach at the plate, our defense, our pitching,” Hathaway said. “I think we’re all confident because each weekend we’re getting better and better so it’s exciting that there’s room to grow and we know that we’re going to get better each weekend.”
This weekend the Longhorns will play four ranked opponents—No. 8 Washington, No. 15 Tennessee, No. 20 Missouri and No. 21 Arizona State. Considering the amount of tough competition, Texas will have its hands full.
Hathaway said the team isn’t focused on the ranking of its opposition.
“I don’t think that we really think about the ranked opponents,” Hathaway said. “I just kind of focus on the fact that it’s a chance to play a really good team. (We’ll) see how we match up against them and try to get some wins out of this so that we can move up in the rankings ourselves and get some more confidence going into Big 12 and the rest of the season.”
The tournament presents a great opportunity for the team to enjoy a trip outside of Austin, while still honing its skills for conference play. Senior Stephanie Wong outfielder said she enjoys playing in large tournaments like the Mary Nutter Classic.
“It’s so fun to play in these big tournaments especially getting to go all the way to California, that’s always fun,” Wong said. “Plus, there’s so many great teams we get to play from different conferences and that’s always great to be around.”
While the team has played a total of 10 games over the last two weeks, head coach Connie Clark said she views the six games ahead as an oppoortunity to improve.
“It’s such a great field out there,” Clark said. “I mean it’s always just really fun and you can’t turn your head without having a great softball game going on because of the fields and the number of highly ranked teams that are out there. It’s a great week for us, a great opportunity.”
The stage is certainly large, but much like her players, Clark said she tries not to get caught up in the hysterics of playing highly ranked opponents so far away from home.
“I just want them to go out and continue to play aggressively, be decisive, be aggressive, and continue to do the things that we’re working on in practice,” Clark said. “I think if we do that good things are going to happen.”