Texas softball opens season at Clearwater Invitational

Katie Borchetta, General Sports Reporter

No. 6/9 Texas softball opened its 2023 campaign on Friday, Feb. 10 in the Clearwater Invitational, scoring 20 runs in its first day alone.

Starting out Friday, Texas’ first matchup was against No. 23 Missouri. The Longhorns dominated 11–1. With a number of freshman and transfer players added to Texas’ roster this season, five new players made their debut in the Longhorns’ uniform. Freshman Leighton Goode hit a run-scoring triple in her first collegiate appearance at the plate. Freshman Vivian Martinez also played a major role in the team scoring. On the defensive end, freshman pitcher Mac Morgan was able to prevent Missouri from scoring while only giving up five hits and one run in the fifth inning. 

“I think I bring a lot of passion when I compete, which is something I do well because I’m a very competitive person,” Morgan said in a media availability on Feb. 6.

Later that day, Texas fell one run short to No. 8 Northwestern with a final score of 10–9. The team gave up three runs to Northwestern in the first inning and came back scoring seven by the bottom of the third. However, the Longhorns ultimately fell short. Northwestern’s senior Angela Zedak, junior Hannah Cady and freshman Kelsey Nader were each responsible for two runs. Zedak had three RBIs and Nader had two.

After both games, Texas had a combined batting average of .567. The two-game total of 20 runs was the highest scoring since plating 21 against UTA and Iowa State last April.

Martinez had an impressive two games with five plate appearances and a 1.000 batting average at the end of the day.

Additionally, sophomore Mia Scott had four RBIs, Martinez and junior Jordyn Whitaker followed with thee and junior Alyssa Washington had two after the first two games.

Washington described her experience at the plate and how her positive game mentality helps her grow as a player.

“Honestly, just staying calm and battling through the adversity,” Washington said in a media availability on Feb. 6. “You must keep your head up and keep battling while keeping in mind that everything is independent of each other and don’t let there be a domino effect.”

Head coach Mike White said he was impressed by the performance on day one and their potential to grow further in the season.

“(The freshmen) just aren’t thinking like freshmen. They all understand that the game doesn’t know you’re a freshman, so they’re just up there attacking the pitchers and just playing the game as it should be played,” White said. “I think there were both some positives and negatives, but I think the positives definitely outweigh the negatives.” 

Saturday’s matchups were supposed to consist of Illinois and Tennessee, but with multiple weather delays, the Illinois game was pushed into Sunday’s schedule, while the Tennessee game was canceled altogether.

Sunday, the team faced off against Illinois at 8:30 a.m. Despite the early start time, the Longhorns’ energy was there and the team conquered the Fighting Illini 7–0. 

The team scored one run in the third inning, two in the fourth and four runs in the fifth. Washington, Goode, Scott, Martinez, junior Alyssa Popelka, sophomore Baylea Brandon and freshman Reese Atwood each had one run.

The final game of the invitational was a tie 4–4 against Kentucky. Texas scored all four runs in the first two innings and allowed the Wildcats to get one run in the fifth and three in the sixth inning. Technically, Kentucky was leading 7–4 in the eighth inning when the game was stopped early due to its travel plans. Since the eighth inning was incomplete, the official score reverted back to the last completed inning. 

The Longhorns will face off against Lamar University next on Wednesday in Austin.