Depth, resolve to be a focus for Longhorns in Texas Invitational

Wills Layton

Losing to the No. 1 team in the country by a single run is a tough pill to swallow.

But the Longhorns (4–5) will have to move on anyway as they attempt to rebound this weekend from their Wednesday night loss to the top-ranked Washington Huskies.

The midweek matchup against the Huskies was a nail-biter, coming down to the final inning. The Longhorns fell, 2-1, but still put up a tough fight against the best team in the country.

“I think we have high expectations,” Texas head coach Connie Clark said. “I think they have a good sense of reality and understand that it’s about a season — it’s not about what we are going to do this weekend or the next two weekends.”

Moving forward to this weekend, the team will play five games at home in the Texas Invitational, three of which are against ranked opponents. The opening game of the tournament for Texas will be a doubleheader Friday against No. 20 Michigan and Wichita State.

Five games are a lot for one weekend and can wear down the roster with game after game. But Texas boasts depth that should prove to be an important weapon.

“I think it’s definitely an advantage that we have six pitchers,” senior captain Randel Leahy said. “Having six pitchers allows us to take someone out of the bullpen and have the opponent not know what to expect.”

Texas’ pitchers include seniors Paige von Sprecken and Kristen Clark, juniors Erica Wright and Brooke Bolinger and freshmen Chloe Romero and Ariana Adams. Among the pitchers, a camaraderie has already started developing.

“Within the team, we like to say we have the squad within the squad, because you’ll look around and we are always together,” redshirt junior pitcher Erica Wright said. “I wouldn’t say we are competitive — we are more supportive of each other, and I think that’s what’s great about it. Like we all want each other to do well, but if not, we have each others’ backs.”

With all of those pitchers comes a ton of different styles of pitching. Some prefer the rise ball, some prefer a good fastball, while others love the changeup. The teams’ two catchers, Leahy and sophomore Taylor Ellsworth, have had to learn to adjust to each pitcher.

“Everyone brings something different to the table,” Ellsworth said. “Catching every single one of them, they are all different in their own way. When we’re hitting against them, they give us a struggle.”

This weekend is a chance for the Longhorns to right the ship early in the season. Coming away from the Texas Invitational with a winning record would set the tone for the rest of the season.

“I’d like to say we just want to learn how to work as a team, but I think we’re past that just from the fall and the practices,” Ellsworth said. “I think we’re ready to come out and win and take over some teams.”