Texas blanks competition with starters, solid defense

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Blair Luna prepares a pitch against Colorado State Sunday in the Texas Classic. Luna is part of the Longhorns' powerful pitching staff that didn't give up a single run all weekend. The last time Texas went five games without giving up a run was in 2007.

Photo Credit: Marisa Vasquez | Daily Texan Staff

The Longhorns showed early signs of being a dominant team this weekend.

Texas finished off its five-game weekend series on Sunday afternoon with an 8-0 win against the Colorado State Rams. The Longhorns took all five games and out-scored their opponents 60-0 during the Texas Classic thanks to strong pitching and solid defense.

Against Cal State Fullerton on Thursday night, junior starting pitcher Blaire Luna recorded her first win of the season. She finished with twelve strikeouts and one walk, and allowed only two hits. Luna also started Sunday’s championship game against the Rams where she recorded 10 strikeouts and only one hit against the 17 batters she faced. The Austin native has been a key asset so far for Texas and continues to be so this season. In her first three appearances, over a span of 13 innings, she has recorded 26 strikeouts, three walks and allowed only four hits.

Longhorns head coach Connie Clark has been very pleased by her pitchers’ performances.

“I think the pitchers are doing a good job of really going at hitters, so even when we had some deep counts we weren’t issuing a lot of free passes,” Clark said. “We have a solid defense and obviously a very good battery, so you have to play off each other.”

Luna also had some comments about their first championship win and great start to the season.

“It is exciting, but it is more exciting for my teammates and our pitching staff as a whole,” Luna said. “As a team, we did really well and our hitters were just on all weekend.”

Sophomore Rachel Fox, a Sugar Land native, was expected to do big things coming into this season. In her first start she threw a complete game shutout, striking out six and was touched for only three hits against UTSA. Although she started a little shaky with her first three batters, Fox finished strong.

“It’s still the first start for her of the season. She’s got high aspirations for herself, of course,” Clark said, who went out to the mound after the first three batters and talked to Fox. “I think she was actually ahead on everybody else except one hitter for the rest of the game on the first pitch [after the talk on the mound]. She settled in and turned in a
great performance.”

The Longhorns said they are proud of the pitching staff and the defense they have.

“Our pitching staff and defense are amazing,” sophomore Taylor Thom said. “We have one of the best pitching staffs in the country, and our group behind them is always alert and ready for the ball when it comes at us.”

Texas has learned a good strategy on the season so far — after all, it’s hard to lose if your opponent can’t score. The last time Texas went five games without giving up any runs was mid-season in 2007.

All four of the Texas starting pitchers made appearances in the Texas Classic. The Longhorns played consistently throughout all five games and began their season with a strong foundation to build on. If Texas can continue to pitch effectively, it should be one of the top teams in the Big 12.