Senior pitcher Miranda Elish has already had her fair share of highlight moments in the early goings, but Sunday’s performance against New Mexico put her in the company of Texas greats.
Elish closed out an undefeated weekend tournament with her best pitching performance of the year, throwing the second perfect game of her career and the fourth in Texas history as the Longhorns took down the Lobos 7-0.
“It was great,” Texas head coach Mike White said. “I mean, you notice there about the fifth inning and you go, ‘Oh don't screw up on a pitch call!’ To get a seven inning game perfect, it’s hard to do … it was really exciting for her.”
Elish threw just 87 pitches in her seven innings of work, striking out 10 of the 21 hitters she faced and sat down.
“(White) really stresses … every opponent is a faceless opponent,” Elish said. “It doesn’t matter who they are, you have to play your game. … What I did out there, if I did that against any other team, it’d be getting really similar results.”
Elish’s weekend was just a continuation of her torrid start to the season. Through 16 appearances and 12 starts, Elish is 11–3 with a 1.25 ERA, posting a team-leading .158 opponent’s batting average while throwing nearly half the team’s innings so far.
“Of course it feels good and I’m really just lucky to have the defense I do behind me to make it a perfect game,” said Elish. “It’s awesome, but I have to take what I did in this game and carry it over to the other games … you can’t dwell on it.”
Texas played four games in its last home tournament before conference play begins, and the Longhorns looked predictably dominant against three opponents with losing records. In their first three games, the Longhorns managed 2-0 and 3-0 wins over Liberty and a 13-5 run-rule victory over Texas Southern.
“Just doing some little things,” Texas head coach Mike White said. “We had some drag bunts or fake bunt steals, … a lot of little stuff that we try to execute even in the big games and this gives us the opportunity to do that.”
The weekend was utilized by White and the Longhorns to work on the little skills that can make a difference in high-pressure situations. By the end of the Sunday’s game, Texas had picked up six stolen bases, three of which came from junior infielder Janae Jefferson.
“(The steals) were situational,” White said. “We took a look at the strength of the catcher out there and we wanted to put the pressure on (her). We’re working on bigger things, you know, we want to make sure we’re putting the pressure on teams.”
Freshmen catcher London Marder and pitcher Grace Green made their way into the lineup in Sunday's win, giving younger players some at-bats before conference play picks up.
“Just giving them exposure right now,” said White. “We’re pretty deep this year as far as upperclassmen go … I’m just trying to get them time and get them prepared for hopefully next year.”
With Elish rolling and Texas on another six game win streak, the Longhorns look to stay hot against Alabama before opening Big 12 play against Oklahoma on March 20.