Only 30 minutes separated the two games the Longhorns played Saturday of the Sun Devil Classic. Two entirely different offensive performances separated the games even more.
After the Texas won the day’s first game, 15-2, over Princeton, game two was a completely different story, as the Longhorns fell 3-1 to Wisconsin in nine innings.
In game one, Texas exploded offensively to an extent it had not done this season. The Longhorns got going early and did not look back. After scoring one run in the first inning, they put up a big four-run third. But it was the fourth inning that broke the game open.
Texas scored nine runs, taking advantage of three errors and six hits that kept the rally alive. It was the exclamation point on the game that saw the most runs the Longhorns scored all season long.
But the contrast between the two games could not have been more stark. After the year’s best offensive performance came one of the year’s worst, with Texas held to just one run by a strong Wisconsin pitching staff.
There simply wasn’t enough timely hitting for the Longhorn offense. Repeatedly, they got runners aboard, only to strand seven runners on base in the matchup.
It took until the ninth inning of the extra-inning finish to bring one across the plate, and that was on a leadoff double with a runner starting the inning at second base due to the International Tiebreaker Rule.
On Friday, Texas head coach Mike White said he “was a little disappointed in our patience at the plate and we’ve got to improve on that.” After the improvement was clearly made against the Tigers, there seemed to be a regression against Wisconsin as the Badger pitchers threw a combined 96 pitches in the nine-inning game.
In the pitcher’s circle, however, things are still looking up for Texas as they have all season. Pitcher Ariana Adams made just her third start of the season against Princeton, but she showed no signs of inexperience. The sophomore went all five innings for the Longhorns, striking out three and walking one. She allowed just one earned run in the effort.
In game two against Wisconsin, Texas pitcher Shealyn O’Leary turned in an outstanding performance in a game that quickly became a pitcher’s duel, throwing seven full innings of shutout ball, allowing just three hits and striking out four Badger hitters. Yet, the Longhorns couldn’t get it done at the plate.
White has preached offensive consistency all season long. There was no better display of its necessity than Saturday. As they head to Sunday matchup with No. 15 Arizona State, the Longhorns will try to regain some of the power they showed in game one.