ESPN picked a good weekend to focus on college softball. After dropping the first game of the series against No. 15 Oklahoma, the third-ranked Longhorns battled back and earned a 5-3 victory Sunday afternoon.
The cable network featured the Red River Rivalry on Saturday night in front of a sold-out crowd at McCombs Field. The Sooners got on the scoreboard early in the top of the first inning and took it from there, earning five more runs in six innings.
The Longhorns didn’t let that happen Sunday afternoon. After allowing Oklahoma to again score in the top of the first inning, the Texas offense produced runs early to challenge the Sooners.
“I think it was tremendous that we had to grind it out,” said Texas head coach Connie Clark. “We talked about the difference of being under pressure and having to grind it out, having the right mentality and not being too hyped. We need to understand that we are down in the foxhole together, and we just need to keep battling and keep playing — It is not going to be easy."
Taylor Hoagland punched another solid pitch out of the park in the bottom of the third inning to bring her season homer total to 13. Hoagland now leads the team in home runs and is tied for the UT single-season home run record, which is currently held by junior Courtney Craig, who set the record last year.
A pair of back-to-back singles by freshmen Brejae Washington and Taylor Thom put the Horns in scoring position. A sacrifice bunt by Amy Hooks and a wild pitch by Oklahoma starting pitcher Keilani Ricketts allowed Washington and Thom to score, putting the Longhorns ahead for good. A home run by Craig in the bottom of the fifth inning capped off the afternoon’s scoring.
“I think this is the hardest weekend we have had to play with the challenge and just battling back and really showing what we can do in the conference,” Craig said. “It is just a great feeling to know that we did get the turnaround today and have a great week coming up.”
Clark insists that this weekend was a good learning experience for her team. After going 12-0 in conference play, she said that her team needs to remember that anything is possible, especially during postseason.
After the win Sunday afternoon, the Longhorns are now 44-5 on the season and still lead the conference with a 13-1 record.