The narrative of a college softball season can turn quickly.
On April 17, Texas sat top the Big 12 standings carrying a nine-game conference win streak and hopes for a Big 12 title slowly shifted to realistic expectations. The pressure to win now finally began to sink in.
However, that momentum and hope all changed on that same April evening when Baylor ace pitcher Gia Rodoni dismantled the Texas lineup in a 3-0 shutout that wasn’t even as close as the score indicated, causing the Longhorns to pause and consider how close they truly were to competing with the Big 12 elite.
“I thought we had a decent game plan coming in,” Texas head coach Connie Clark said. “We’ll turn it around and we get ready for the next one, you can’t hang your head.”
Following that midweek loss to the Bears, the Longhorns (30–21, 10–6 Big 12) proceeded to lose five of their last six conference games. Instead of conference title hopes, Texas now hopes it can secure its spot in the field of 64 for the NCAA Tournament.
Desperately searching to solidify their spot in the tournament field, the Longhorns will have one final opportunity during the Big 12 schedule to do so. That chance will come against the same Baylor team who changed the course of their season less than a month ago.
“I think we know what we’re looking for next time,” sophomore catcher Taylor Ellsworth said. “We have the idea, but I think we have a good shot these next two times we see them.”
If Texas wants to steal a game from the Bears, the Texas offense will need to break its habit of unproductivity. Entering their weekend series against No. 19 Baylor, the Longhorns have managed to only average just over run per game in their 19 games against ranked opponents.
“We’re having some opportunities offensively, but we’re just not quite getting it done,” Clark said. “I’m disappointed in that, but we just have to come back to work and get after it.”
As the Longhorns look to find their offensive rhythm, the Baylor coaching staff will undoubtedly test Texas with Rodoni who found an immense amount of success against the Texas hitters the last time she faced them, which is a fact not lost on Clark.
“We were guessing at the plate (the first game), and we will end up seeing her (this coming weekend),” Clark said. “We’re going to have to solve (Rodoni) in order to get at Baylor.”
Regardless of who throws against the Longhorns this weekend, Texas knows it’s going to require more than luck to rally against the Bears in a pivotal road series. For the Longhorns to find redemption, every facet of their game will need to be more consistent.
The Longhorns begin their two-game series with Baylor on Saturday evening at Getterman Stadium in Waco, Texas. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.