Longhorn softball looks to remain undefeated through Texas Invitational

Seth Forman

Winning the first 11 games of the season is a difficult task for any team. Staying undefeated is even harder. That is the challenge the Texas softball team faces this weekend. 

Sitting at 11–0, the No. 4 Longhorns will have to power through five more games in three days to remain undefeated as they begin the Texas Invitational on Friday.

Texas has been hit with adversity early this season, including Wednesday night’s game against North Texas. The Longhorns escaped with a 3-2 win after nine innings. After freshman Courtney Day allowed two runs in her first inning pitched, she was taken out in the third inning.

Senior Miranda Elish and sophomore Shealyn O’Leary kept the Mean Green off the board for the next seven innings. After being shut down for much of the contest by North Texas junior pitcher Hope Trautwein, the Longhorns pulled off a late rally to take home the ninth-inning win.

“It was like facing a postseason pitcher,” Texas head coach Mike White said of Trautwein. “That kid is really good. She can spin it up there, has good velocity, good command. Difficult to hit.” 

Texas has allowed an average of 1.18 runs per game thanks to the stellar pitching rotation of Day, Elish, O’Leary and junior Ariana Adams, but high-quality pitching isn’t always enough to win.  

It was a similar story when Texas required a stunning seventh inning comeback to come out victorious over Utah in the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge last weekend. Excellent pitching and fielding held the Utes to a mere two runs, but Texas struggled until the final inning to get the runs they needed. After averaging over 11 runs per game in their first seven games, the Longhorns were held scoreless until the seventh inning.

The question for this weekend is who will produce for the Longhorns. Texas softball has gotten production from the top down. Stars such as senior catcher Mary Iakopo and Elish, who have a combined 29 RBIs, have shown that they can make plays at the plate. But the roster is filled with talent who can perform on any given night. 

“Just keep it simple,” senior outfielder Shannon Rhodes said. “No one person try to be the hero. Just pass the bat and try to get on base because if you hit a base hit, you move the person over and the next person will take care of getting her in.” 

This weekend, Texas will face Lipscomb and North Dakota State in a Friday double-header. The Longhorns have already escaped three double-headers unscathed this season, proving they can handle the quantity of games. 

On Saturday, Texas will take on Lipscomb in a rematch and a 9–1 Duke team in back-to-back games. Texas will need plenty of hits from the whole team to remain undefeated through the weekend’s tournament.

“I thought we did well coming straight back right away, but we had an opportunity to get some more runs, and that’s what we talked about,” White said after the win over UNT. “The concern is to really get some more runs.”