Texas offense puts on home run show in Lubbock for softball series sweep

Pitcher+Sophia+Simpson+throws+the+first+pitch+of+the+inning.+Texas+played+McNeese+State+at+Red+%26+Charline+McCombs+Field+on+February+16%2C+2022.

Lorianne Willett/The Daily Texan

Pitcher Sophia Simpson throws the first pitch of the inning. Texas played McNeese State at Red & Charline McCombs Field on February 16, 2022.

Nick Hargroue, Sports Reporter

Texas softball bounced back in a big way in Lubbock this weekend, sweeping Texas Tech in a dominant offensive display. 

The Longhorns’ high-octane offense scored 23 runs in three games against the Red Raiders, taking care of Texas Tech on its home turf in a much-needed series victory late in the season, 5-4, 11-1 and 7-6.

Texas’ bats came alive this weekend, in a promising switch from the Longhorns’ usual path to victory. Six Longhorns hit six home runs in the series, allowing the team to score in bunches rather than relying on nifty base running and small-ball tactics like bunting. 

As a team this year, Texas averages 3.04 earned runs allowed per game, ranking 90th out of 293 teams in the NCAA. Led by senior transfer pitcher Hailey Dolcini, the Longhorns have traditionally beaten teams this year by limiting their opponent’s offense as opposed to outscoring them. 

Against Texas Tech, however, Texas allowed over four runs in two of the three games. This only happened one other time this season, in the high-scoring series against Iowa State in early April.

Texas’ key to success at the plate in this series also happened to be the Achilles’ heel of the Longhorn pitching staff — home runs. In the series, 10 out of 11 Red Raider runs were scored on the long ball. 

In game one of the series, Texas only allowed three total hits; however, two of those hits were two-run home runs, keeping Texas Tech in the ball game. 

Limiting home runs has been a problem for Texas’ pitchers this year, as freshman pitcher Sophia Simpson is the only true strikeout specialist on the roster, ranking in the top 50 pitchers for strikeouts per seven innings. Dolcini has been lights out this year with a .158 opposing batting average, yet most of her at bats end up in contact, elevating the home run potential of the opposition.

Senior catcher Mary Iakopo notched six RBIs in the series, leading the team despite only starting two of the three games. Senior second baseman Janae Jefferson scored more runs than she had hits in the series, flashing her elite plate discipline and getting on base at any cost. Freshman third baseman Mia Scott even hit her second home run of the season, which was sure to fire up the dugout in an 11-1 rout of Texas Tech in game two of the series.

Winning this series was key for the Longhorns, as Texas was swept in a close three-game series in Stillwater, Oklahoma, against No. 6 Oklahoma State. The Longhorns might be officially out of the running for the Big 12 regular-season title, but each additional win going into the postseason increases the team’s seeding and chance of potentially hosting a regional. 

Texas is a much better team at home than on the road, only losing four games total on the season with two of those being against No. 1 Oklahoma, so home-field advantage could be an important factor for the team.

The Longhorns will play its last regular-season game outside of Austin on May 6, taking on Baylor in Waco for the last series of the regular season before the Big 12 Championship.