No. 6 Texas softball opens 2020 with wins against Wichita State, Maryland

Seth Forman

Last season, the Texas softball team scored 16 runs across two shutout games to start the campaign. Powered by strong performances by the pitchers on the team, this year’s squad came to Red & Charline McCombs Field ready to compete.

In the first night of the 2020 season, No. 6 Texas opened with back-to-back convincing victories in the season opening doubleheader by a combined 25 runs. The Texas pitchers powered the Longhorns to wins in both games from both the mound and the plate.

The season began with a 10-2 six-inning victory over Wichita State. Senior pitcher Miranda Elish and freshman pitcher and utility player Courtney Day, who stepped in as a designated hitter, combined to go 4 for 4 at the plate, with Day collecting three of those hits.

Elish managed 10 strikeouts in the game, allowing only five hits and pitching all six innings to record a complete game victory in her first game back after suffering a freak injury to end her 2019 campaign. 

Elish continued to display why she’s one of Texas’ star players in the second game of the night against Maryland. She hit 4 for 4 with a home run and six RBIs, contributing to the team’s dominant 17-0 victory over the Terrapins. 

After coming into the game ranked inside of the top 10 teams in the country, this kind of a hot start was no surprise. Elish and Day’s play was not a surprise either, as both have been hitting well even before the season began.

“Miranda Elish has been hitting the ball really well,” Texas head coach Mike White said. “Courtney Day has been one of the best power hitters in preseason.”

Yet another Texas pitcher had a standout night in sophomore pitcher Shealyn O’Leary, who threw five strikeouts and didn’t allow a single run against the Terps. O’Leary pitched all five innings in Texas’ victory to start the season 2–0. 

Coming off an All-American season in 2019, junior infielder Janae Jefferson also had a phenomenal performance with six runs and four hits on the night with two stolen bases to top it off. 

“(Jefferson) is outstanding,” sophomore catcher Colleen Sullivan said. “She’s always pushing the limits besides just getting on base … She’s so smart on the bases and she’s such a key player at second base.”

The key for the rest of the weekend is waiting to see if the Longhorns can keep this momentum for the rest of the Texas Classic. The talent that was on full display in the two dominant wins Thursday night show that this is more than possible.

“I think it’s just not getting too far ahead of yourself,” White said. “Just gotta make sure you don’t drink too much of that Kool-Aid.”

Texas will play Lamar on Friday, then Colorado State on Saturday followed by a Saturday rematch with Wichita State. The Longhorns will end the weekend with a game Sunday against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.