On the second night of a West Coast road trip, Texas went out and made history. For the first time in school history, the Longhorns beat the country’s No. 1 and No. 2 teams on back-to-back nights, as they took down Washington 8-6 on Friday.
Texas was able to draw four walks in the first inning against Washington junior pitcher Gabbie Plain as the Longhorns brought in five runs on just two hits. Texas’ ability to work the count set the tone for an eventual victory over the second-ranked team in the nation. Before the Huskies even got a chance to bat in the bottom of the first inning, they were down 5-0 and their starting pitcher had been pulled from the game.
“We talk about on base percentage and scoring runs,” Texas head coach Mike White said. “We’ve got to be aggressive when the ball’s there. We can’t just be making weak outs.”
The Longhorns’ high-powered offense showed it had the ability to be patient Friday night. Texas, who came into the game having out-hit all 19 opponents it had faced this season, was forced to settle for walks throughout the first inning as Plain struggled with her control.
Aside from the five-run explosion in the first inning, the Longhorns’ offense was held nearly stagnant the entire game. Texas only managed one more run through the next six innings, but the eagle eye that the team displayed at the start of the contest proved to be enough to come out victorious against Washington.
The Huskies did not go down quietly despite being down by five runs in the first inning. In the bottom of the second inning, Washington managed to knock out Texas’ starting sophomore pitcher Shealyn O’Leary by pouncing on her for four runs to cut the Longhorns’ lead down to one.
After a first inning in which it seemed as if Texas was on its way to a run-rule victory over the No. 2 team in the country, White was forced to pull O’Leary before the Huskies could take the lead from the Longhorns. White chose to bring on freshman pitcher Courtney Day to stop the bleeding. The Pearland, Texas, native responded by pitching 3.2 innings and only giving up one earned run to secure the Texas win.
“Courtney did a great job,” White said. “(O'Leary) was rattled (and) just couldn’t keep the ball down in the zone. … I will give her another shot.”
Heading into last Thursday’s game against No. 1 UCLA, the Longhorns had only played two teams ranked in the Top 25 all season. They now go into the second game of the Judi Garman Classic tournament with four wins against these Top 25 teams, including victories over the two best teams in the nation.
“We don’t want to get this far and stub our toe,” White said. “The target is on our back now.”