Ninth-ranked Wildcats shut out Longhorns in pitchers’ duel

Wills Layton

The trend the Longhorn softball team has started of losing to ranked teams at home continued Friday night as Texas lost, 2-0, to the Arizona Wildcats.

The offense struggled all game despite a solid pitching performance from senior Paige von Sprecken, who pitched the complete-game loss only allowing two runs. She also struck out eight and collected a walk as a batter.

The Longhorns were up against the No. 9 ranked Wildcats and their ace, junior Taylor McQuillin, whose last four consecutive starts have resulted in one-hit shutouts. That streak was snapped as the Longhorns mustered two hits in seven innings off of her.

“We’ve got to figure out how to scratch and claw and find a way to put a couple runs up,” head coach Connie Clark said. “I think that’s something we have to do for us to get an outcome. The difficult schedule only helps you if you continue to get a couple wins in the mix, so we’ve got to be able to figure out how to do that.”

The Longhorns’ best chance to score a run or two occurred in the bottom of the second inning. Arizona had scored in the top half, and the Longhorns looked ready to pounce, as von Sprecken was at third base after a double by freshman MK Tedder with no outs in the inning.

However, this scoring opportunity was snuffed out after sophomore Kaitlyn Slack struck out, which was followed by a fielder’s choice that had von Sprecken out at home. Finally, sophomore Malory Schattle struck out to squash the scoring chance for the Longhorns.

“We had some opportunities tonight,” Clark said. “We tried to force things in a little bit. Unfortunately, again, we had some big strikeouts in key situations.”

The Longhorns have now faced seven ranked teams this far in the season, losing to six of them. The lone win was against No. 20 Michigan in the Texas Invitiational.

However, the experience gained going against so many ranked teams early in the season is not lost on the players.

“It’s definitely very valuable for us because we’re going to be playing ranked teams for the rest of the season,” von Sprecken said. “We have to continue being able to compete with them and eventually we’re going to get the outcomes.”

The Longhorns have limped out of the gate to start this season, compiling a record of 7–9. While one would assume a losing record at this point in the season may be affecting team morale, the team sees their performance thus far in the season a little differently.

“I don’t think that there’s any correlation between morale and record,” von Sprecken said. “I think that we have great chemistry on our team and we’re proud of the way that we’ve been playing. We just know that eventually we are going to get those outcomes. We just need to keep our morale up and we don’t let games like this define us and define our season.”