Longhorn softball team dominates season-opening Texas Classic tournament

Seth Forman

Entering the 2020 season, the University of Texas Longhorns softball team had never lost a season opener. This past weekend, they continued that trend in a fiery fashion. 

Not only did the No. 6 ranked program win all six games of the Texas Classic tournament by an average of more than 11 runs, but Texas didn’t play a single game into the seventh inning.

Texas simply looked dominant this weekend with six run rule victories and a combined scoreline of 78-8. No one story dominated the tournament, either — players from the top to the bottom of the roster came out and showed why No. 6 Texas is ready to be a national contender.

It started with the stars from last year. Senior pitcher Miranda Elish, junior shortstop Janae Jefferson and junior catcher Mary Iakopo all picked up even better than they left off after last year’s postseason run. This weekend Elish led the way with a ridiculous 17 runs batted in, seven runs and four homers, including a grand slam. 

She was equally dominant on the mound. The senior struck out 18 and allowed two runs in 10 innings. 

“I think she hit like .811 and two wins,” Texas head coach Mike White said. “It was incredible what she did. (To have 17 RBI’s), I mean that’s tremendous.”

Elish was not the only veteran standout. Jefferson batted .625 with two stolen bases and 11 runs. Iakopo managed eight RBIs and four runs. Senior pinch hitter Kaitlyn Washington managed to bat .600 for three runs and six RBIs. Sophomore pitcher Shealyn O’Leary allowed only six hits and one run in ten innings. 

But as impressive as Texas’ seniors were, freshman pitcher Courtney Day’s performance was the biggest surprise to White. The bright-eyed freshman owned her first taste of collegiate action, hitting .636 with five RBIs while striking out two in five innings of work.

“She certainly came out and did a good job this weekend,” White said. “And then pitching, She surprised me pitching. She’s a very quick learned … really good at making adjustments” 

Fellow freshmen pticher Grace Green, infielder Camille Corona and infielder Alyssa Popelka also earned their stripes at the Classic. Popelka closed the first six games with an impressive five runs, two RBIs and a stolen base. Corona had three runs and five RBIs, and Green batted .667 with two runs, a remarkable showing for the freshmen class. 

Although Texas didn’t play any ranked opponents in its opening tournament, fans should be nothing short of impressed by the results. 

“It feels really great to come out like that,” Elish said. “It’s something you want to carry with yourself and with the team throughout the rest of the season … but nope, you just gotta stay in the moment. You can’t dwell on how good or bad you did this past weekend, we just have to move on game by game.”

Next, the Longhorns will travel to Mexico for the Puerto Vallarta Valley Challenge where they will take on California Baptist on Thursday.