Softball bids farewell to seniors, plans to honor at last home game of season

Emma Hutchinson, Sports Reporter

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in the May 3, 2022 flipbook.

As Texas softball takes its final strides of the spring season, the team will say a reluctant farewell to three Longhorn super seniors: Janae Jefferson, Hailey Dolcini and Mary Iakopo.

The trio stood as a prime example of sportsmanship and leadership while setting the foundation for a program continuing to grow its culture and inspire its audience. Their ability to recover from the obstacles, including win droughts and missed games, has been a key aspect of the team’s success.

Leading the program in total hits upon entering the 2022 season, Jefferson has made a powerful impact on Texas softball with her consistency. Over the weekend, the second baseman scored her 200th career run while facing off against Texas Tech, one of two Texas players to ever reach the 200-run milestone. 

Jefferson also collected 24 honors and awards and counting across her five years of work.

With a bright future ahead, Jefferson said she will take the game of softball with her after she graduates this May. She hopes to have the chance to play softball professionally, and she’d also like to get a job in the interior design field. 

Dolcini, who transferred in for her last collegiate year, became the team’s pitching savior on multiple occasions. Dolcini has compiled a 2.40 ERA on the season over 142.2 total innings pitched, making her the leader in innings pitched. 

In her sole year as a Longhorn, Dolcini quickly showed herself to be a crucial asset to the team’s success rate, pitching during 16 wins. During the team’s contest against Texas Tech, Dolcini reached double figures in strikeouts for the 20th time and reached her career high of 14 strikeouts for the second time this season.

“She competes well,” Iakopo said about Dolcini. “She’s gotten better every week.”    

Completing the trifecta, Iakopo has been a staple of Texas softball’s offensive scene with 42 total RBIs and nine home runs for the season, leading the team in both categories. 

Iakopo has been a reliable source for bringing the Longhorns into the lead, with her .321 batting average, the fourth highest on the roster, and slugging average of .607.

Iakopo, along with Jefferson and senior utility Lauren Burke, were  recently featured on the 2022 Academic All-Big 12 Conference teams. This marked Iakopo and Jefferson’s third honor and gave Burke her second.      

While Burke is also one of the four seniors on the roster, she has yet to announce whether or not she will stay with the Longhorns for another year.   

The Longhorns have dedicated their final home game against Baylor on Sunday to celebrating the seniors and sending the team into the Big 12 Conference Championship.

“All we’re looking forward to is the postseason,” Iakopo said. “This team is ready after getting punched in the mouth again and again. I’m really proud of where we’re going and where we’re headed.”