The Longhorns can’t blow out everyone.
Last week, Texas star pitcher senior Miranda Elish was named NFCA Division I National Player of the Week after batting .643 with four home runs and 17 RBIs, helping the team dominate every game the team played. Texas won each game with the run rule in effect.
On Thursday, Elish came out a little slower with zero hits and a strikeout. It didn’t seem to hurt the No. 6 Longhorns, as they were able to pick up a 4-0 win in the opener of the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge against California Baptist.
Even in victory, the game was a stark contrast from the Texas Classic in which the Longhorns outscored opponents 78-8 over the weekend. Texas got off to a slow start against CBU, leading only 1-0 in the middle of the fourth.
The differences went beyond the scoreboard. The conditions at Puerto Vallarta posed a challenge of their own in how they differ from the comforts of home at Red & Charline McCombs Field in Austin.
“Well, it is a public park, so it’s nowhere near the conditions at McCombs field,” Texas head coach Mike White said. “The outfield’s a little different, a little bumpy ... The infield has some pretty high bounces in there as well.”
The change in conditions might explain Texas’ slow start, but the new field and long travel could only hold them back for so long. The Longhorns scored three runs in the fourth inning to bring the score to 4-0 behind doubles by both redshirt senior outfielder Reagan Hathaway and junior infielder Janae Jefferson
After the fourth inning, California Baptist changed pitchers to junior Giana Lopez, who managed to hold the Texas batters in check. Lopez pitched the final two innings and allowed only one hit and zero runs to stop the Longhorns from obtaining their seventh consecutive run-rule win.
“This ballpark is kinda tough to score runs in,” White said. “The ball just doesn’t fly the same as it did at McCombs, but that’s the same for both teams. Hopefully, we’ll have a little more energy tomorrow. I don’t think we had the energy, but we made some great defensive plays.”
The primary bright spot of the win, however, was the success of Courtney Day in her first career start. The freshman pitcher threw all seven innings and allowed just four hits, shutting out the Lancers.
“I was really proud of her,” White said. “Her first win at Texas was a complete game shutout. You don’t lose shutouts, so I’m really proud of her.”
Friday, the Longhorns will take on perennial powerhouse No. 12 Tennessee and undefeated Utah as they try to continue their perfect start.
“It’s going to be whoever wants it most tomorrow,” White said.