Longhorns look to continue energy off hot start in return to McCombs Field

Marcus Krum

Texas is 7–1 through the first two weekends of play, its best start since 2016.

But the Longhorns are doing more than just getting results — they’re having fun doing it. In Clearwater, Florida, the excitement in the dugout was constant. As they return home to Austin for the Texas Invitational this weekend, they will only try to ramp up the energy at Red and Charline McCombs Field.

“They’ve got to have fun,” head coach Mike White said. “That’s how they stay loose. We play our best when we’re relaxed. … You’ve got to play a little bit looser, it’s just not life and death out there.”

Even suffering the first loss of the young season to LSU did not deter the Longhorns’ spirit. The intensity remained high for the entirety of last weekend’s Clearwater Invitational, as they finished strong with a big comeback win over a ranked Kentucky team.

“Every game is Opening Day,” White said. “You’ve got to play like there’s no history. … You’ve got to be excited every time you get out there. You don’t have to play this game, you get to play this game. It’s just a mindset thing.”

The response to the loss against LSU was precisely what White and the Longhorns were looking for. Winning in walk-off fashion over the No. 18 Wildcats, the Longhorns feel momentum heading into this season’s second home tournament.

“We knew we’re bound to lose at some point,” utility player Lauren Burke said. “It was just all about how we came back from that. … We can beat any team on any day, and when it came to Kentucky, we fought to the end and we really showed our stuff.”

In the young season with a new coaching staff, the lineup is still regularly shuffled as the coaches try to figure out how to place the best nine players on the field in positions they are comfortable playing. With this process comes some hiccups, like the game against LSU.

But heading into the Texas Invitational, the Longhorns feel they are on the right track.

“This past weekend really assured us that we’re doing what we need to do at this point of the season,” infielder Malory Schattle said. “We had a rough patch against LSU, but we’re learning from it. Seeing that at the beginning instead of the end is a lot better.”

Sam Houston State, Tulsa and Ole Miss will be making the trip to Austin this weekend as Texas will try to reignite a win streak like the one it began the season with. While none of these teams are of the caliber of LSU or Kentucky, this is simply another way for the Longhorns to prove in front of a home crowd that what they are building is substantial.

“They’re excited about the season. They’re excited about something new,” White said. “They like the direction that this coaching staff is taking them and they kind of bought in. We got their trust early and our job now is to keep their trust.”