No. 16 Texas softball puts away Houston in final home game until May

Emma Hutchinson, Sports Reporter

Texas softball lit up Red and Charline McCombs Field on Wednesday night, firing off three home runs within the first two innings.   

Junior outfielder Lou Gilbert launched her first home run of the season, while junior McKenzie Parker and senior Janae Jefferson hit their sixth and second home runs of the season, respectively. 

“She actually started the other day, and she’s been showing well at practice,” head coach Mike White said. “Adversity creates opportunity for some players, like Lou Gilbert.”    

The No. 16 Texas softball team has been riding a wave of triumph since upsetting the previously undefeated Oklahoma Sooners last weekend, and the Longhorns continued to let their energy flow with an anticipated win over the unranked Houston Cougars, ending their midweek contest with a score of 6-4.      

As the team begins to wrap up its spring season, seniors Janae Jefferson and Hailey Dolcini look to go out with a bang. Entering the game needing only five more hits to break the Big 12 career hits record, Jefferson notched two more to reach a total of 330 — almost enough to surpass former Iowa State player Sami Williams’ 332. The fifth-year graduate student is currently on an 11-game hitting streak, batting a .576 average for the season.     

In addition to Jefferson’s achievement, Dolcini racked up a few of her own. Dolcini picked up her second Wilson/NFCA National Pitcher of the Week and Big 12 Conference Co-Pitcher of the Week honors in the last three weeks, having left Oklahoma with just five total hits and a .100 batting average last weekend. Dolcini entered Wednesday’s game in the top of the sixth inning to shut out the Cougars with three strikeouts.

“As much as I didn’t want to get Hailey out there, I had to, just to make sure we (could) shut the door,” White said. “I think our pitching staff is doing better, Well, I should say Hailey Dolcini (is).”       

While the graduates retire their burnt orange jerseys, freshmen Mia Scott and Sophia Simpson have only begun to scratch the surface of their Longhorn softball careers. Scott is 4-for-5 this season with the bases loaded, as seen during Saturday’s bout against Oklahoma when she blasted a three-run double. The third baseman maintains a .368 hitting average — the third highest in the Longhorns’ starting lineup.

“We want to create a new Texas way, a new system, so to speak,” White said. “They’re the ones who are going to pave the way for us.” 

Simpson faced an unforgiving rough patch in her performance during the 2.2 innings she pitched, allowing four hits and accumulating an ERA of 10.50. Sophomore Estelle Czech promptly swooped in and cleaned up the third inning, striking out Houston’s Bethany Busch and allowing only two hits and no earned runs.

“Sophia Simpson definitely has the capabilities of shutting teams out, along with Estelle Czech,” White said. “Could I have left her in there? Possibly, but … you lose these games and they can hurt you more than they help you.”       

Texas will head to Stillwater, Oklahoma this Friday to play the No. 6 Oklahoma State Cowgirls before the Longhorns continue their road trip to Lubbock the following weekend.