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Thirty-two athletes will be competing for one of seventeen roster spots on the 2013 USA Softball Women’s National Team and two Texas Longhorns earned themselves an invitation.
Taylor Hoagland and Taylor Thom represented the University of Texas at the 2013 USA Softball Women’s Selection Camp, which was held June 10-12 at the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) Hall of Fame Complex in Oklahoma City.
During a three-day selection process, the invited athletes competed in simulated games and position drills. The selected athletes will then represent the US in three separate events in Canada, Puerto Rico and the United States
Hoagland earned her third career invitation after a very successful senior season. The National Fastpitch Coaches Association First-Team All-American ended the season with the second-most walks per game among Division 1 players at 1.2. Hoagland made Longhorn history with the highest on-base percentage of .610, earning her the top spot in the history of the program and a third place ranking nationally. Hoagland was also an NFCA All-Central Region and All-Big 12 First-Team Honoree.
Thom earned her invitation after a junior campaign that set the Texas record for runs batted in with 66. Thom earned spots on both the NFCA All-Central Region and All-Big 12 First teams, while also earning a spot as an NFCA Third-Team All-American. Her 15 home runs placed her second on the program’s single season chart while managing to climb to third on the program’s list of runs in a season with 55.
Both Hoagland and Thom join a list of Longhorns who have been invited to participate. Lexy Bennett earned an invitation in 2012, Blaire Luna received an invitation in both 2010 and 2011 and Kat Osterman after earning invitations in both 2009 and 2010.
Camp selections will be made June 14, and the events of the camp will be open to the public and will also stream live on www.usasoftball.com.
The selected players will compete with the women’s national team to defend their world cup title at the World Cup of Softball VIII, July 11-14, in Oklahoma City.
Ellis overcame Georgia’s Lauren Herring at No. 1 singles to claim the match (4-6, 6-0, 6-2). The win continued her undefeated streak for the moment.
Meanwhile, Addison had a rough time with No. 18 Maho Kowase. Competitive during her 5-0 mark, she lost her first match in straight sets (1-6, 1-6).
Texas eventually lost to Georgia 2-4 for the second straight time at this event. The loss sent them to the consolation round against Texas A&M.
Addison and Ellis both won on Saturday, but not in singles play. Addison and teammate Noel Scott claimed an 8-6 upset win over No. 7 Stancu-Hristov while Ellis and Elizabeth Begley won their match, giving the Longhorns a 1-0 lead over the Aggies.
Ellis lost her first singles match this season against No. 3 Sanchez-Quintanar (2-6, 2-6). Addison followed with a straight set loss, her second loss in as many days as the Longhorns dropped another match 2-4.
Sunday against Alabama, Ellis beat No. 12 Mary Anne Macfarlane (6-4, 6-4), moving to 7-1 on the season. Addison collected her only singles win of the weekend against No. 13 Alexa Guarachi.
Despite their success on Sunday, the Longhorns lost to the Crimson Tide 3-4, putting them 0-3 for the weekend.
The Longhorns have two weeks to recoup before they head up north to face Big 10 opponents Northwestern and Michigan.
The Longhorns resume play this weekend at the ITA National Team Indoor Championship. After a first-round exit from last year’s championship, the Longhorns will look to rewrite the script this time around.
To change their fate, the Longhorns will have to beat the Georgia Bulldogs, who eliminated them last year.
The Bulldogs come into the championship ranked No. 6 in the country and are led by eighth-ranked singles player Lauren Herring and three others ranked in the top 80. They also boast two top 25 doubles teams.
Last year senior Aeriel Ellis and sophomore Lina Padegimaite had success against their singles opposition from Georgia. Padegimaite landed a victory over returning Bulldog No. 54 Kate Fuller. Ellis knocked off Georgia’s No. 2 player from a year ago.
Not only will a team win over the Bulldogs advance the Longhorns in the tournament, but it will also provide them with momentum as they continue on toward the ultimate goal.
“It’s time to win a national championship,” Ellis said. “It’s really time.”
The Longhorns and Bulldogs take the court at the University of Virginia on Friday at 5:30 p.m.
Damp and windy conditions throughout the weekend did not slow down the Longhorns as they earned a berth in the ITA National Team Indoor Championships next month.
Due to these weather conditions Saturday, the Longhorns’ match against Wichita State was postponed over four hours.
When the match resumed, Texas came out strong.
In doubles, Breaunna Addison and Noel Scott teamed up to claim an 8-6 win after a 7-4 lead turned to 7-6. Lina Padegimaite and Annat Rabinovich won in an 8-7 (7-2) tiebreaker. The two wins gave the Longhorns the doubles point.
Wichita State made the decision to play only five singles players, so the No. 6 matches were defaulted giving the Longhorns a 2-0 lead.
Addison and Elizabeth Begley clinched their matches for the Longhorns at No. 2 and No. 3 spots, respectively.
Sunday brought even windier conditions, but the Longhorns held strong against Utah.
Despite losing the doubles point, singles play was all Longhorns. Begley earned a 6-0, 6-2 win at No. 4 singles while Padegimaite took No. 5 singles with a 6-3, 6-0 win to give the Horns a 2-1 advantage.
Addison held off a charge in the second set to win her match. Scott followed a few minutes after with a 6-4, 6-2 win after trailing 1-4 in the first set, winning the match for the Longhorns 4-1.
“I thought everyone came back really nicely after losing the doubles point,” Begley said. “Every one of us was focused on getting a singles point after the doubles.”
The win over Utah sends the Longhorns to the University of Virginia on Feb. 8 for the ITA National Team Indoor Championships.
As head coach Jerritt Elliott enters his 12th season with Texas, the mission remains the same as it is every year: contend for the conference and national titles. Since 2008, Elliott has led the Longhorns to a 110-17 record, including just six conference losses. With the talent that Elliott has on hand after minor attrition this offseason, and a star-studded recruiting class ranked No. 2 in the country, there’s no denying Texas has a legitimate shot at the national title in 2012. Nine letter winners return from last season, and four of the nation’s top 20 high school seniors set to join the team and strengthen an already impressive group of athletes.
This year, Elliott has wrangled two more former U.S. Youth National team members in Nicole Dalton and Molly McCage.
McCage, a 6-foot-3 middle blocker from Klein Collins High School, is rated as the No. 1 incoming freshman in the nation by Prep Volleyball. McCage adds depth to a position that needs just that. A year ago freshman Khat Bell, the team’s starting middle blocker, was quite a force to be reckoned with before she went down with a season-ending knee injury during conference play. McCage will serve as a great backup option to Bell, although it may not take long for the two to compete for playing time, with Bell nearing a full recovery.
“We are excited about Molly,” said Elliott. “She is a very physical athlete, very fast off the floor with a good arm. I think she has the potential to be a great middle blocker in terms of her attacking and blocking abilities, along with her speed. She competes at a very high level and will get after it from day one. We are excited about her. I think she has a lot of room for improvement, which says a lot about where she can end up.”
Sara Hattis, a 6-foot-4 middle blocker from Cleveland High School in Rio Rancho, N.M., will also compete with Bell and McCage in the middle. A dual-sport athlete in high school, Hattis was also rated among the nation’s top 100 basketball recruits before choosing to play volleyball at Texas. After playing club volleyball for three months, she led Cleveland to a state runner-up finish in her senior season.
“We are fortunate that she chose volleyball over basketball,” said Elliott. “We have seen a great amount of improvement this year and we are excited to get her in the gym. She has big hands, plays long and has a quick arm swing. In time, she is going to be special. She is a big-time player. She can potentially be the best blocker in this class.”
Maybe the most esteemed of the five incoming freshmen is Nicole Dalton, a 6-foot-2 outside hitter from Chaparral High School in Parker, Colo. Dalton was a teammate of McCage on the 2011 U.S. Youth National Team that competed in the FIVB Girls’ Youth World Championship in Turkey. She was named Colorado’s Volleyball Player of the Year twice (2010-2011), and leading her Front Range AAU team to a bronze medal at the AAU Championships in 2011. Ranked No. 6 in the nation by Prep Volleyball, Dalton is another rangy player that could make an impact sooner rather than later in her collegiate career.
“Cole has the skill set to set and play right side in our program,” said Elliott. “I’m excited on what Cole brings to the table with her setting, ball control, leadership and competitive desire to win.”
Rounding out this year’s recruiting class are two players that are smaller in stature than their future teammates, but have a chance to make just as much of an impact.
Amy Neal and Kat Brooks both play libero, and will back up junior Sarah Palmer, who has been nothing short of an expert at the position as a Longhorn.
Brooks stands at 5-foot-3 and hails from Honolulu, Hawaii, just a stone’s throw from Palmer’s hometown of Kailua. Elliott has shown a fondness for Hawaiian liberos in recent years, with former Longhorn Sydney Yogi also coming from the Honolulu area. Brooks brings the same skills that have made Yogi and Palmer some of the most recognizable and successful liberos in Texas history.
“Kat is a little under-sized, but she has a huge heart and competes well,” said Elliott. “What I like about her is that she is extremely feisty. She is outspoken in a positive way and I don’t think she is going to take a backseat to anyone. She is going to get out there and push from day one. She passes well and plays good defense. I think she will grind it out on a daily basis and we are excited to have her in our gym.”
The final piece of what could be one of the country’s most balanced teams is the 5-foot-10 Neal, who spent her high school days playing at nearby Lake Travis High School. Rated as the No. 18 recruit nationally, Neal led the Cavaliers to a perfect 50-0 record last year, as well as being named the 2011 Gatorade Volleyball Player of the Year for the state of Texas.
“[Amy] is a dynamic athlete and can hurt you in many areas,” said Elliott. “Amy’s ball control is what we are really excited about. She can be a very good passer at this level. If she is able to grasp the mentality part of that position, then she is one that will really push for some starting time based on what we have seen and how well she has performed in the back row. Amy is a great addition to this program.”
Overall, Elliott has more than enough talent and experience to engineer another postseason run, but as always it will be about how the team performs late in the year when the games matter most. Elliott has never had a problem reaching the postseason, or even winning games once there, but it’s now up to him and the team to get over the hump and win a national championship. With what Elliott has done in his tenure, and the history that surrounds the Texas volleyball program, a national title should never again go uncontested by the Longhorns.
Change came to the Forty Acres in April after director of women’s athletics Chris Plonsky announced Karen Aston would succeed Gail Goestenkors as Texas women’s basketball head coach. Now the Longhorns’ top incoming freshman, 6-foot-7 forward/center Imani Stafford, will come to campus after a summer representing her country.
Goestenkors originally recruited Stafford, as well as fellow blue-chipper Empress Davenport, for Texas, but after her resignation there were some questions as to whether the talented pair would remain true to their verbal commitments. Aston was able to secure the pair, also bringing in Lithuanian forward Gintare Mazionyte from Weatherford College and guard Ashley Roberts from South Plains College. Mazionyte adds even more depth at the post position and brings international experience to a team in need of some help to return to an elite level of play.
Stafford is one of 12 players recently named to the USA Basketball Women’s Under-18 National Team. Already ranked one of ESPN’s top recruits and 3rd best post player in the 2012 class, Stafford is excited at how the honor can improve her game.
“Any time you step on that court wearing anything USA is an honor,” Stafford said. “The fact I made the final team just makes it even better. I just want to go out, play hard and get ready for college. Hopefully we’ll bring back the gold.”
Twenty-five players attended the final five sessions in Colorado Springs, Colo., that would eventually be chomped down to a 12-player roster competing in the 2012 FIBA Americas U18 Championship to be held in Gurabo, Puerto Rico, Aug. 15-19.
“It really was a difficult decision with all of the talent on the court,” said Sue Donohoe, committee chair of the USA Basketball Women’s Junior National Team Committee. “It’s not so much about taking the 12 best players; it’s taking the 12 players that can come together to make the best team. Throughout the trials, some players stepped forward, some players stepped back, and then you just have to evaluate the whole process and find the 12 that can bring back a gold for the U.S.”
The top three squads in Puerto Rico secure a berth in the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship for Women in Lithuania. By summer’s end, the Texas Women’s Basketball program could not only get a talented post player to help with the size problem apparent over the last few years but also a player enhanced by the rigors of competing on a very high level of basketball with and against her peers.
However, Stafford does have previous competitive experience playing for the USA Basketball Women’s National Team. She averaged 3.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per game for the gold-medal-winning 2010 U17 National Team that posted a perfect 8-0 record at the inaugural FIBA U17 World Championship for Women in Toulouse and Rodez, France.
As Aston starts her task of retooling the program, it won’t hurt to be able to build around one of the most talented post players in her age bracket. It never hurts to have national team talent on your roster.
On the heels of two consecutive wins in the International Tennis Association Kick-Off Weekend, the Longhorns are heading to Charlottesville, Va. for the ITA National Team Indoor Championships.
Currently ranked No. 15 in the country, the team has had a great spring semester thus far, upsetting No. 4 North Carolina, while posting victories against No. 23 Alabama and No. 17 Vanderbilt.
Junior All-American Aeriel Ellis has led the women all season long, as she has competed in eight consecutive national championship events. Ellis is currently ranked as the No. 47 player in the ITA and is poised to surpass the 30-wins mark for another year.
A new addition to the team this season, freshman Noel Scott, is currently ranked No. 119 and looks to keep improving on her early success as a Longhorn. She joined teammate Cierra Gaytan-Leach to win the doubles final in the Longhorn Invitational and clinched her biggest win to date against the No. 43 player in the nation at Alabama.
Sophomore Elizabeth Begley is another notable performer for the team, winning the singles title and advancing to the doubles semifinals at the Cougar Fall Draw tournament.
The National Team Indoor Championships will be a four day event starting today and running through Monday.
Printed on Friday, February 10, 2012 as: National tournament poses difficult test
Rising junior Taylor Hoagland will join 17 other female athletes on the road this summer as part of the USA Softball Women’s National Team. The team is sponsored by the Amateur Softball Association of America and will represent the United States in a number of games throughout the year.
Hoagland started every game for the Longhorns during her sophomore season and finished with a .335 batting average.
In 2011, Hoagland rewrote both the Texas record book as well as the Big 12 Record Book. Early in the season, Hoagland set the Big 12 record for most consecutive games with a hit at 26 games. She set the Texas record for most home runs in a single season with 15 and the most runs scored with 54 in a single season.
Ken Eriksen, head coach at the University of South Florida, will serve as head coach for the national team. Eriksen will be assisted by Tairia Flowers, head coach at Cal State Northridge, and Stacey Nuveman, assistant coach at San Diego State. Both are former Olympic gold medalists.
The team will start their season with a series of exhibition games around the country, including a doubleheader against the USA Softball Junior Women’s National Team. In the middle of July, the team will travel to Canada for their first international tournament. At the end of July, the team will host the World Cup of Softball in Oklahoma City.
In October, the national Team will finish their season by representing the United States in the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, where it will be the top contender. The United States has claimed the past six titles at the Pan American Games.
Five other Big 12 athletes join Hoagland on the roster.
For two Longhorns, softball season is not over yet.
Sophomores Blaire Luna and Taylor Hoagland will head to Chula Vista, Calif., next week to try out for the 2011 USA Softball Women’s National Team. Texas alumnus and gold medal Olympian Cat Osterman is currently on the National Team roster.
The USA Softball National Team will compete in several international competitions during its regular season. The team won gold in three consecutive Olympic Games starting in Atlanta before it settled for silver in the 2008 games in Beijing, which marked the last time that softball would be played at the Olympics. In addition, the USA National Team has won seven consecutive World Championships hosted by the International Softball Federation.
Luna, an All-American pitcher from Austin, was named to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-American Second Team for the past two years and was the 2010 Big 12 pitcher and freshman of the year. She finished the year with a 28-7 record and a 1.27 ERA.
Hoagland helped lead one of the most prolific offenses ever at Texas and finished the season with a .335 batting average. Earlier in the season, Hoagland set the Big 12 record for most consecutive games with a hit.
Hoagland and Luna are two of 27 athletes who were invited to the training camp to try out. Seventeen athletes will be named to the National Team at the conclusion of the camp on June 17.