The Longhorns are getting it done — and fast.
Texas began the Texas Invitational with two run-rule victories over Sam Houston State and Tulsa at Red & Charline McCombs Field, defeating both the Bearkats and the Hurricane, 9-1.
“I think that winning is contagious, and right now they feel good about what they’ve done,” Texas head coach Mike White said.
White also made it clear that although the wins are encouraging, he wants his team to stay humble as they still have more to work on.
“We got to make sure we keep our feet on the ground and understand once you get into conference here and start facing the Oklahomas and the Texas Techs, it’s gonna be a little bit different,” White said.
The first game of the afternoon started with a run from Sam Houston State by Regan Dunn. That was the only play that would result in runs for the Bearkats.
The Longhorns responded quickly with a run by pitcher Miranda Elish to tie it, followed by a homerun by utility player Lauren Burke, her first of the season. Burke’s out-of-the-park blast gave Texas an unrelinquished lead throughout the rest of the game.
Elish proved to be a force in both games Friday, with two runs and one hit against Sam Houston. Offensively against Tulsa she was 1-for-3 with a run scored and two RBIs. On the mound, she pitched five innings, giving up only one run and striking out 11 Hurricane players.
Fifteen Longhorns saw significant playing time during the first day of play. Having players able to play in multiple positions is something White believes will pay dividends in the future and help prepare Texas for a competitive Big 12 season.
“I keep talking about being a staff,” White said. “It's not just one person. Miranda Elish can't be Miranda Elish by herself, and neither can Shea O'Leary or Brooke Bolinger or Ari Adams. We need each other to be healthy, and that's what really matters.”
O’Leary took the mound for all five innings against Sam Houston, earning eight total strikeouts. O’Leary recorded an 0.44 ERA and allowed just one hit and no walks against the Bearkats.
Team chemistry is evident for the Longhorns and has proven to be a major benefit. With a 9-1 win fresh on their minds before the Tulsa game, the Longhorns could be seen as a singular unit dancing to House of Pain’s “Jump Around” by the dugout. The enthusiasm carried over into the game.
Texas had a slower start against Tulsa, but was able to come back after giving up the first score. Tulsa had two key missteps, though, that helped bring Texas to a two-run advantage in the third inning.
“I think the pitching and the stepping up in some big situations have been doing pretty well,” White said. “Obviously the game could have gotten away from us in the first inning, and that was also an area (where) we stepped up. We got ourselves in some holes but we worked our way out of it, and I think that’s a good thing to do.”
The Longhorns will face the Ole Miss Rebels on Saturday at 1 p.m. and close out the Invitational on Sunday against Houston Baptist at 4:30 p.m.