Texas head coach Connie Clark has consistently preached patience with her young team, saying the Longhorns will experience their fair share of ups and downs.
But 18 games into the 2018 season, most of Texas’ early season hasn’t been defined by its great strides or peaks, but rather by its growing pains.
“There’s ups and downs through a season, but we have to stay positive with this young group,” Clark said. “We’ve got some things to continue to learn and continue to grow in some areas.”
Texas is coming off a three-game series this past weekend against No. 9 Arizona. The Longhorns pulled off an upset against the Wildcats with a 2-0 win on Saturday but dropped their two other games by a combined margin of 10 runs. Now, the Longhorns (8–10) will have to refocus Wednesday night in San Antonio against UTSA (10–8).
Clark’s main point of emphasis for adjustment is at the plate. In three games against Arizona this past weekend, Texas’ offense mustered just five runs and 12 hits — a fact not lost on the head coach.
“We’ve got to figure out just how to scratch and claw and find a way to put a couple runs up,” Clark said. “That’s something we gotta to do so we can get some (positive) outcomes.”
But it doesn’t get much easier for the Texas hitters Wednesday night. The Roadrunners’ two featured pitchers, senior Lizzy Fox and freshman Madison Nelson, have combined to pitch a stout 2.83 ERA in their early season and will undoubtedly challenge the Texas hitters.
“We need to continue to work hard, and it’s early in the season,” sophomore catcher Taylor Ellsworth said. “We need to take things from each game and build on top of that.”
The Longhorns will also continue to mix and match players in the pitcher’s circle in a search for more reliable options. All six pitchers on the Texas staff have appeared in a game, but few have performed at an elite level other than senior Paige von Sprecken. The remainder of the pitching staff is averaging a 6.422 ERA.
UTSA’s offense certainly won’t be the hardest test this season for the Longhorns, but it won’t be the easiest. The top of the Roadrunners’ lineup features three hitters who hit over .360, while the Longhorns’ lineup features none.
It hasn’t been an easy early going, but the Longhorns continue to believe the outcomes will begin to swing their way, which they hope will start Wednesday night.
“I think we have great chemistry on our team, and we’re proud of the way we’ve been playing,” von Sprecken said. “Eventually, we’re going to get those outcomes, and we just need to keep our morale up.”