The Texas Longhorns, who had beaten two top-15 teams in the Judi Garman Classic tournament, were in trouble through three innings Sunday. Trailing 2-1 to unranked Boise State, the Texas bats had fallen dead.
But the tides turned in the bottom of the fourth inning when senior outfielder Shannon Rhodes blasted a three-run homer to put Texas on top 4-2 and knock Boise State’s starting pitcher, senior Kelsey Broadus, out of the game. The Longhorns did not relinquish the lead, winning the game 6-2.
Rhodes’s home run was a welcome sign for the Longhorns. Not only did it give them the lead, but also because it ended a short hitting slump for the senior out of Fort Worth, Texas.
In the Saturday slate of games against Fresno State and No. 11 Michigan, Rhodes went hitless over five at-bats. In a season where Rhodes had provided an offensive spark at the top of the lineup, batting for a .404 average before the two Saturday games, the disappointing day at the plate could have very easily festered over into the Sunday contest.
Rhodes, however, was able to snap out of her short slump by smashing the go-ahead home run when her team needed it most.
“It’s my fourth year coaching Shannon Rhodes and that’s what she does,” Texas head coach Mike White said. “You see a very talented ballplayer that can be consistent, … and other times she struggles. Today, she came out of it and got that three-run home run for us that set the table for the win.”
Similar to Rhodes, Texas as a whole was able to break out of a short offensive slump against Boise State. After scoring four runs over two games on Saturday, the Longhorn offense came alive to put up six runs against the Broncos. The Longhorns were led by Rhodes and junior utility player Lauren Burke, who continued her dominant offensive stretch by going 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI.
“What a week … Lauren Burke had,” White said. “Absolutely phenomenal setting the table for us. I like that going forward, and it’s something for us to build on.”
The win over Boise State caps off a seven-game week for the Longhorns in which they beat four teams ranked in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches Top 25. Texas was forced into unusual situations, traveling to California to face the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked teams in the nation in back-to-back nights before playing three games over the weekend.
The Longhorns are leaving the golden coast with a 3–1 record in the Judi Garman Classic. In what was the toughest slate of games they had seen all season, the Longhorns proved that they can win both offensive shootouts (8-6 over No. 2 Washington) and low scoring pitching duels (1-0 over No. 11 Michigan).
The Longhorns do not play again until March 6, when they will kick off the Longhorn Invitational Tournament against Liberty.
“It’s a good time to get some rest,” White said. “There’s just four games this weekend, I think that’s gonna be good for our team before we hit the road again for Alabama. I feel good where we are.”