As they continued their winning streak with decisive wins over No. 25 New Mexico Lobos, 7-3, and Tulsa Golden Hurricane, 9-1, at Red and Charline McCombs Field, the Longhorns continue to build confidence.
The doubleheader win for the Longhorns improved their record to 31-2 this season, ranking them as the No. 3 team in the country.
The Longhorns have combined offensive power, outstanding pitching and stingy defense to get to this level. The team is an offensive juggernaut with contributions coming across the board from many different players. In over 32 games, Texas has outscored its opponents 235-51. With eight players batting over .350, the lineup has combined for 38 home runs.
Taylor Hoagland leads the team with nine home runs and is one home run away from tying the Texas career record. At the same time, Lexy Bennett’s 41 RBIs makes her just one shy of the Texas career record of 139. In fact, the Longhorns boast five players with more than 20 RBIs, with several others certain to pass that mark by the season’s end.
It isn’t all about the hitting, however. The Texas pitchers have been equally dominant on the mound with all four starting pitchers sporting ERAs under two with a team average ERA of 1.36. Blaire Luna and Rachel Fox lead the team with 12 and nine wins, respectively. Over the course of the season, the pitching staff has a combined 256 strikeouts with Luna accounting for 134 of them.
Earlier in the season, head coach Connie Clark expressed concern about whether this group of Longhorns had the mental toughness and competitive spirit to stay focused and finish strong. So far, they have quieted her concerns with consistent and inspired play.
While they are almost in the exact position at this point in the season as they were last season, coach Clark believes this year’s team has exhibited more confidence during games. She observed that the team continues to make the right adjustments when needed and really likes how the team “competed, even when we were down” in the recent game against New Mexico.
“You do not want to see a team panic,” Clark said.
She was also impressed with how the Longhorns kept their composure and continued playing through the tough situations.
The Longhorns look to carry that composure forward as they prepare for a stretch of critical games against Big 12 Conference foes, including Missouri, Texas A&M, Kansas, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. Texas currently sits atop the Big 12 with a 6-0 conference record, with Oklahoma and Missouri nipping at their heels.
Staying mentally tough and focused will be key to this critical stretch of games in the remainder of the season. The Longhorns clearly have their eyes on what they need to do and hope to continue their successful run into the postseason as far as they can go.
Printed on Wednesday, April 4, 2012 as: Longhorns playing nearly flawless ball