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, then one more Sunday, the Texas softball team began the 2019 campaign with resounding success. Braving freezing rain and near-freezing temperatures, Texas ambushed their opponents in all four games with an aggressive offensive style that piled up runs in a hurry.
The Longhorns won 8-0 over Boston College, 8-0 over Boise State, 7-2 over Northwestern State and 9-1 in their second game with Boston College.
“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 32 total runs over the weekend’s four 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’re just hunting mistakes,” White said. “I’m trying to get that mentality. I don’t want us to be passive. I want us to err on the side of making a mistake by being aggressive. That means at the plate, if you get the pitcher down (in the count), you’ve just got to hammer it.”
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 Saturday, the Longhorns run-ruled Boston College through five innings highlighted by a five-run fifth inning that broke the game wide open. In the second game against Boise State, the Longhorns scored in each of the five innings. Pitcher Miranda 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.
“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,” Elish said. “We’ve been really anxiously awaiting it.”
In the third matchup on Saturday, the Lnghorns fell down 1-0 to Northwestern State in the first inning. But Texas put up a five-run fourth inning to break the game open and seal the 7-2 victory. Sunday, it was again a monster one-inning performance that led to the 9-1 victory. Texas scored 8 runs in the first, including the first home run of the season by catcher Mary Iakopo, en route to yet another 5-inning run rule finish.
“(Discipline at the plate) was something we identified with the team going into season,” White said. “We were swinging at too many balls, not taking enough walks. Today (Sunday) ... our discipline was a lot better.”
Up next for the Longhorns is the St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational, where Texas will try to continue the statement made with the weekend’s four 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.”