The Mike White era may have come a day late, but it did not disappoint.
Playing three games Saturday after a rain-cancelled doubleheader Friday, the Texas softball team began the 2019 campaign with resounding success. Braving freezing rain and near-freezing temperatures, Texas ambushed all three teams with an aggressive offensive style that piled up runs in a hurry, winning 8-0 against Boston College, 8-0 over Boise State and 7-2 over Northwestern State.
“It gets everybody hyped up,” outfielder Reagan Hathaway said. “If you’re aggressive and you lace a ball on the first couple of pitches, it’s like ‘just pass the bat. Keep it going.’ I think it helps a lot, especially if we’re swinging at good pitches.”
Hathaway led the charge offensively for a team that scored 23 runs over Saturday’s three games. While this aggressive nature yielded a couple blunders, including two outs on the basepath in one inning against Boise State, it was key in manufacturing runs, along with the plethora of base hits at the plate.
“We hit some laser beams today,” White said. “We didn’t hit any out of the ballpark, but I’m more impressed with line drives, (hitting it) gap to gap, especially in a big ballpark like this, that’s pretty good.”
The aggressive approach worked wonders for a Texas offense that struggled to put runs on the board in 2018. The first look at the offense a year later showed no such struggles.
In the first game of the day, the Longhorns run-ruled Boston College through five innings, highlighted by a five-run fifth inning that broke the game wide open. The weather did not deter the high energy possessed by Texas as it began the season.
“To be able to start a new era and wipe everything we went through in the fall off and get going as Longhorns was exciting,” pitcher Miranda Elish said. “We’ve been really anxiously awaiting it.”
In the second game, against Boise State, the Longhorns scored in each of the five innings. Elish also began her Texas career with a bang, driving in a run against Boston College and then pitching five stellar shutout innings against Boise State.
“She’s just such a competitor. It’s the energy she brings, the swag,” White said. “We talk about swag and confidence, and she brings that.”
It’s rare that teams play three games in one day. Per NCAA rules, the only time this is acceptable is in a round-robin tournament like the Texas Classic. Yet the heavy workload did not seem to wear too much on the Longhorns. After falling down 1-0 to Northwestern State in the first inning, Texas put up a five-run fourth inning to break the game open and seal the 7-2 victory.
“You just can’t really think about the cold,” Elish said about playing three games under the difficult conditions. “You just have to forget about it and play your game. You can’t only play good when it’s sunny and 75 degrees.”
As the Longhorns close out the Texas Classic on Sunday against Boston College, they will simply try to continue the statement made with Saturday’s three victories.
“There’s all kinds of talk around us,” Hathaway said. “We just want to go out and prove that all the hype is there. It’s real.”