This weekend, Texas Softball played out of country for the second time in program history at the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge. The Longhorns entered the tournament red hot at 6–0 without a single game played to seven innings.
They left the tournament with one loss in an exhibition game, but picked up some key wins to keep the early-season momentum alive.
Although Texas broke its streak of run-rule wins in a 4-0 win over California Baptist on Thursday, the team advanced to 10–0 on the season after wins over Utah, No. 12 Tennessee and Ole Miss. The Longhorns finally fell to the Mexican National team in extra innings in an exhibition match.
The Longhorns were tested in difficult conditions against some top-tier competition in Mexico. With a gauntlet of a schedule looming, Texas will be no stranger to adversity as the season wears on. The Puerto Vallarta College Challenge was the first sign that they can hang tough in adverse conditions.
“Like I told the ladies, we can’t practice the environment we’re in here,” Texas head coach Mike White said. “It was kind of like fast forward to maybe later in the season.”
In the four wins, the Longhorns picked up hits from everywhere in the lineup. Texas batted .356 and outscored opponents 22-3 in those games.
Several players have stood out in the early goings for Texas, and the weekend in Puerto Vallarta only accentuated the extent of their talents. Senior pitcher Miranda Elish pitched 12 innings and didn’t allow an earned run, leading to her being named Puerto Vallarta College Challenge Second Session MVP.
Freshman pitcher/utility player Courtney Day allowed zero runs and four hits in Thursday’s win over California Baptist, then hit a home run and scored two runs against Tennessee.
But perhaps more notably, players competing for starting lineup spots put up serious numbers. Sophomore catcher Colleen Sullivan hit .455 with two RBIs and two doubles. Senior infielder Kaitlyn Slack hit .714 with a double, a home run and four RBIs.
Sophomore infielder McKenzie Parker made her lone tournament appearance count. Parker had a stellar performance in the exhibition game against Mexico, going 2-for-4 with three RBIs, two runs, a triple and a home run.
“It’s one of those tough situations where Parker is battling for a position … she had an opportunity there, and boy did she make the most of it,” White said. “It gives us something to think about, you know, we need to go back now and think about, ‘Can she play a different position to help us out defensively?’”
The undefeated Longhorns will look to remain that way this week as they play North Texas at home this Wednesday before starting their third tournament, the 2020 Texas Invitational, on Friday.