In the history of the Texas softball program, the team has collected eight total Big 12 Conference titles: four regular season titles and four Big 12 Tournament titles.
The key to winning these kinds of titles is strong conference play. The Longhorns begin Big 12 play this weekend against the Kansas Jayhawks.
Texas has experienced a very inconsistent season so far heading into the weekend, boasting a record of 13–13 and losing a total of eight games to ranked opponents. However, a win Wednesday over No. 25 Texas State has provided the kind of confidence necessary to finish the season strong.
“It was great,” sophomore infielder Kaitlyn Slack said. “The feeling in the dugout and the feeling in the locker room was fun. It’s fun when you win. This brings us confidence going into conference, so we plan to roll with this.”
The victory over Texas State displayed two constants that have been a part of the entire season for the Longhorns: strong pitching and low offensive output.
“You can’t stay down too long,” head coach Connie Clark said. “You have to keep figuring out how to reset and how to grow and get better. A win like this sets their confidence up to where it needs to be starting a conference season where you’re 0–0.”
The pitching staff for the Longhorns has been solid all year, led by senior ace Paige von Sprecken and junior Brooke Bolinger. Von Sprecken continues to pitch consistently in every game she starts, throwing a complete game with seven strikeouts on Wednesday.
However, the offensive struggles of the team have been well-documented all season and have recurred in the team’s past three games, only mustering a total of four runs in that time.
In order to start strong in conference and rack up wins heading into the NCAA Tournament, the team will need to focus on one thing.
“Consistency in our approach,” Clark said. “But more than anything, we are doing a lot of work on offensive synergy and pushing runs and how to ignite a fire on offense. That’s the biggest thing that we will be keying on.”
A lot can be said for how this team has responded to the challenges it has faced thus far in the year. The team has dealt with youth at almost every infield position and has had to ease two freshmen into the bullpen.
Despite conference play providing a clean 0–0 slate, the Longhorns don’t plan on treating Big 12 games any differently.
“I think that we need to treat Big 12 games the same as we do any other game,” von Sprecken said. “They’re no different — it’s just another team in the dugout. We just need to focus on us, and if we come out and play the way we can, we’ll be fine.”