Finals are the main focus for most students on campus, but for 19 Texas softball players there is business to be handled outside the classroom, too.
The Longhorns are facing off with Iowa State for their last road trip and conference series of the regular season this weekend in Ames, Iowa.
“They’ve got finals on their brains, so we need to make sure we leave the academics outside the dugout and when we get done playing they’ll get back to the academic side,” head coach Connie Clark said. “That’s the challenge this time of year but I think we’re up for it. We’ve positioned ourselves nicely to move up, but we can’t have a letdown.”
Fortunately for Texas, the Cyclones aren’t a very potent opponent. Iowa State currently sits at the bottom of the conference with just one Big 12 win. The Cyclones are riding some momentum after a big win over in-state rival Iowa, but the Longhorns are in a good rhythm right now as well.
Iowa State has some talented hitters in their lineup. Senior second baseman Brittany Gomez, a New Braunfels, Texas native, is the biggest offensive threat for the Cyclones. She leads the team with a .402 batting average and is aggressive on the base path with 24 stolen bases this season, which is tied for most in the Big 12.
The Cyclone pitching staff has struggled throughout the season and has a collective 4.95 ERA. Texas hitters have been making consistent contact at the plate and should find success against the young Iowa State staff.
The Longhorn staff, headlined by junior ace Tiarra Davis, has shown improvement in recent weeks. They boast the lowest team ERA in the conference at 2.26 and are getting comfortable attacking the strike zone.
“We’re getting better every day, and this is the time to get better,” Clark said. “We’re building a lot of confidence
After the Iowa State series, Texas will play a single home game against Baylor on May 14 to close out the regular season. The Bears won the first two games of the series back in March.
Selections for the NCAA Softball Championship tournament will be made the day after Texas’ season ends. The 16 four-team Regionals will be played May 20-22 and winners will advance to the Super Regionals will occur May 26-29. The season will conclude with the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City from June 2-8.
“We’ve done pretty good in our last couple of Big 12 series and Iowa State’s no different,” senior outfielder Holly Kern said. “We need to put the foot on the pedal and take it to them. We play Baylor the week after that, so taking all the momentum we can get from this series into that one is the motivation. Our focus will be keeping our momentum