Texas searching for offensive identity in weekend series against Samford

Robert Larkin

Entering the week, prospects appeared to be turning up for the Longhorn softball team. Riding a seven-game winning streak with an improving offense, Texas appeared positioned to make noise in the second half of its 2018 schedule.

But after the Longhorns’ offense struggled to consistently produce runs this week in two non-conference games, in which Texas went 1–1, more questions than answers were provided. Now, the Longhorns (20–14, 6–0 Big 12) will try to solve their offensive problems in a three-game weekend series at McCombs Field with Samford (12–26).

“We need to be better than (our past two games) offensively,” Texas head coach Connie Clark said. “Our pitch identification hasn’t been great the last two nights, and we have to work on when we have a game plan (and) identify well.”

In this week’s games against Houston and UTSA, the Texas lineup managed to put together just two total runs and eight total hits, while leaving 11 runners on base.

“I don’t think we made adjustments quick enough at the plate,” Clark said. “When we don’t outhit our opponents, I don’t think our record is very solid.”

The numbers agree. In fact, when the Longhorns fail to outhit their opponents, they’re 1–10.

Luckily for the Longhorns, a weekend series against Samford offers an opportunity for the Texas lineup to regain its confidence. Through 38 games this season, the Samford pitching rotation has combined to average a 5.21 ERA, which bodes well for the Longhorns at the plate.

Though Texas understands its weekend series must feature drastic improvements at the plate, sophomore left outfielder Kaitlyn Washington says the team can still take some positives from its gritty 1-0 win over UTSA on Wednesday night.

“The fight we had tonight, we have to take into the weekend,” Washington said after the game. “It’s tough to get through a three-game series against the same team, but the fight will help get us through.”

Samford arrives in Austin with a record that stands 14 games below .500, and it would be particularly easy for Texas players and coaches to take their upcoming opponent lightly.

But if this group intends to accomplish its goals, including a conference title, each opponent must be treated with equal importance.

“We can’t take teams light just because they’re not in conference,” senior pitcher Paige von Sprecken said. “We need to make sure we’re playing Texas softball and not playing to levels of our opponent, especially if we want to win a Big 12 championship.”

The Longhorns’ series with Samford begins with a doubleheader on Saturday. First pitch at McCombs Field is slated for 11 a.m.