The Rangers

Senior Taylor Thom is the unquestioned leader of this year's Longhorn squad. Texas will rely on Thom's big bat to drive in runs on the field, and, with three years of collegiate experience, expert her to mentor some of the younger players. 

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

As a junior at Vista Ridge high school in Cedar Park, Taylor Thom led her team to the 2009 UIL State Semifinal game at Red McCombs Field in Austin. The Lady Rangers lost 3-0 to Pearland in a close contest.

Fast-forward four years to 2013 when Thom found herself in the postseason at the College World Series in a semifinal matchup against No. 1 Oklahoma. The Longhorns would lose that game 10-2 to the Sooners, who would go on to beat Tennessee and become the World Series champions. 

“Going to the World Series is still my favorite team memory,” Thom said.

Now, preparing for her final campaign as a Longhorn, Thom looks to build on a record-setting junior season with a new supporting cast of young faces. One of just four seniors on a team that includes 13 underclassmen, Thom is the undisputed veteran with more experience to speak of than several other players combined. This past summer, Thom was a member of the 2013 USA Women’s National Team, where she competed on the international stage — as well as in the World Cup — with former teammate Taylor Hoagland. 

“It was amazing getting to play with such incredible softball players,” Thom said. “Traveling all over the country and the world. It was such a great experience and I thoroughly enjoyed it.”

Recently named to the preseason Top 50 “Watch List” for the 2014 USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Award, Thom ranks near the top in nearly every major category in the Texas records book. She currently sits fourth in runs batted in (135), seventh in doubles (37), eighth in runs scored (122) and ninth in home runs (28). In her final year as a Longhorn, Thom will look to match her historic senior season at Vista Ridge where she posted a .528 batting average with 50 runs scored, 21 runs batted in, 15 doubles and 34 stolen bases.

Coming off a team-high 15-home-run season, the hard-hitting shortstop has the ability to change the game with one swing of the bat and is always a threat at the plate. 

Perhaps the most decorated player on the team, Thom is confident about the prospects of this year’s group.

“We definitely lost some key players last year, but we have some good ones that are going to be able and come in and fill that hole that needs to be filled,” Thom said. “I think we are looking great and I am excited to see how our first game against LSU goes.”

Whether the Longhorns can return to the World Series remains to be seen, as a tough conference schedule — which includes No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 16 Baylor — lies ahead. But if Thom’s senior year at Vista Ridge is any indication, her best season is still ahead of her.  

Recapping the opening week Silver Boot Series betwen the Rangers and Astros

The opening night of the baseball season came to an exciting start for the Astros and their fans as a young, overachieving team dominated the Rangers, a potential playoff team. The Astros lit up Rangers southpaw, Matt Harrison, scoring six runs off him in less than six innings. Bud Norris looked to be in midseason form, allowing two earned runs in 5 2/3 innings and Erik Bedard channeled his 2007 self, shutting the door by allowing but one hit over the final 3 1/3 innings. The Astros looked like a team poised to shock to baseball world, but perhaps the Rangers just had a terrible game or the Astros just severely overachieved because the next two games exemplified baseball’s polar effect.

The Rangers proceeded to win the series by giving up seven total hits to the Astros over the next 18 innings, quelling the worry of troubled Rangers fans still scarred by the loss of Josh Hamilton. Yu Darvish and Alexi Ogando proceeded to completely shut down the strikeout-prone Astros offense, as the Rangers staff K’ed 30 Astros hitters shut them out in consecutive games. In the series, the Astros also managed to break the record for the most strikeouts by a team in its first three games of the season, with 43.

Not all was bad for the Astros during the series, though. Some of the positives taken from the three games were the emergence of consistent starting pitching and the continuation of Jose Altuve’s consistency. After Bud Norris' solid performance in the series opener, Lucas Harrell held the Rangers to one earned run and six hits in the second game. In game three, Phillip Humber allowed one earned in 5 2/3 innings. In addition, Altuve is hitting .417 and gives fans hope for the Astros to send a worthy player to the All-Star game. In order to get back on track the Astros clearly have to get more disciplined at the plate (especially the middle of the lineup) and the bullpen cannot continue causing all quality starts by Astros starters to be all for naught.

For the Rangers, former Astros great and member of the “Killer B’s,” Lance Berkman, returned to Houston to pester his former team. He went 6-for-10 over the three-game series with three RBIs. Everyone knows about Yu Darvish’s 8 2/3 perfect innings and Marwin Gonzalez, a career .236 hitter, knocking a single up the middle to dash all hopes of history being made in Houston on opening week. Twitter exploded with clever puns like, “Yu mad?” and “Yu can’t always get what Yu want.” Others, such as sportswriter, Bill Simmons, stated his blunt outlook on the Astros future – “Don't worry, we'll get to see someone throw a perfect game against the Astros this season.” In order for the Rangers to return to the playoffs, others in the lineup have to make up for the offensive loss of Josh Hamilton and Matt Harrison, Derek Holland and Colby Lewis need to return to form and become more consistent.

Seniors Will Abigail and Coleman McCord watch the end of game six of the World Series at Cain & Abel’s Thursday night. At the bottom of the 11th inning, the Cardinals scored, resulting in a 10-9 Cardinals win and a 3-3 tied series. The final game will air today a

Photo Credit: Shannon Kintner | Daily Texan Staff

The faces at Cuatros restaurant and sports bar said it all Thursday night.

As the Rangers lost 10-9 after 11 innings in a heartbreaking Game 6 in St. Louis, fans at the 24th St. bar couldn’t believe what they saw. Alex Batista, an engineering freshman, thought they had the game locked in after the top of the ninth inning.

“I just couldn’t believe what was going on,” Batista said. “After they came back the first time I was stunned, and the second time was even worse. Going from a high to a low like that two innings in a row is a horrible feeling.”

Everyone at the popular hangout spot was on the edge of their seats the entire game, especially as the game neared its conclusion. The game, which ended after a walk-off home run by David Freese of the Cardinals in extra innings, was the chance for the Rangers to make history and win the first World Series title in franchise history.

International relations freshman Sam Moser felt that tonight was the night for it to happen.

“There was so much hype on the game and the Rangers’ chances to win,” he said. “[The Rangers] played a strong game and after they took the lead I thought it was ours. I’ve waited for a moment like this since I first became a fan. I really thought I was going to see history tonight.”

Although most fans were disappointed and upset, some were very optimistic. Shouts were even heard leaving the restaurant saying “it’s not over” and “still got one more game.”

Education freshman Christina Portillo was glad to see her team bounce back after last year’s heartbreaking loss to the San Francisco Giants in the World Series.

“I’m proud of them,” she said. “It’s great for them to be in this position two years in a row. It’s a great bounce back after last year’s hard loss.”

Portillo, who has been an avid Rangers fan since she moved to Dallas eleven years ago, thought the game was thrilling.

“I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. [The Rangers] were on fire. It was just fun to watch even though they lost.”

Although the Rangers disappointed their fans this time, there’s still a game tonight. As with every game, Cuatro’s will be packed again. True fans stuck out the cold last night and watched the game on the outside patio, screaming and shouting with every play. Others inside had the same enthusiasm. No one there could be held back from their excitement and eventual disappointment. However they still have faith. For Moser, a World Series title isn’t out of the question at all.

“There’s still more baseball to be played. I’m not worried. It’s just another game the Rangers are going to win.”

Printed on Friday, October 28, 2011 as: Heartbreaker

1. At least five innings from Colby Lewis - In order for the Rangers to continue their World Series roll, and win the team’s first ever championship, they will need a strong performance from their starting pitcher. Lewis has been the Rangers most consistent starter in October baseball, with a 2.95 ERA. If Lewis can navigate the team through five innings while allowing minimal damage, he can give the ball to the Rangers bullpen, which has been almost perfect all postseason.

2. Don’t pitch to the Machine - Albert Pujols is the best player in the game and in Game 3 he showed why with a three-homer and six RBI performance in game three. But in the last two games the Rangers have pitched around Pujols, and the strategy has paid off. The Rangers would like to finish the deal, they need to continue to tread carefully around Pujols and take the game out of his hands.

3. Solid Defense - The Rangers have won and lost games in this series on defensive plays. In Game 3, Mike Napoli’s errant throw from first allowed two runs to score and blew the game open for the Redbirds. But in Game Four, spectacular plays behind Derek Holland kept his shutout alive, and in Game 5 a key strike-em-out throw-em-out put the nail in the coffin for the Cardinals. If the Rangers get another strong game from the gloves, they will most likely be raising the trophy Wednesday evening.

2011 World Series

Computer Science Sophomore Will Conklin watches the World Series at Pluckers on Rio Grande Monday evening.

Photo Credit: Victoria Montalvo | Daily Texan Staff

It was all smiles in Pluckers on Monday night as the Rangers took Game 5 in the World Series. The wing restaurant and bar on Rio Grande Street has always been a popular hangout spot to watch the games, but has become even more crowded with Texas in the World Series. Rangers shirts were seen in every direction and almost all the eyes were set on the 14 televisions showing the game. Although there weren’t many big lines on Monday, almost every table was filled during the game.

For many Ranger fans, including freshman engineering major and Fort Worth native Arthur Sheridan, a World Series win is something that has been a long time coming.

“It feels good to be in this position. After all those bad seasons, it’s exciting and feels great to be in the World Series, if only now they can come out with a win,” he said.

Sheridan, like most diehard Rangers fans, remembers the pain after last years World Series where the San Francisco Giants beat the Rangers in only five games, and before that when they had only won one playoff game since their establishment.

However for another, newer, Rangers fan, this series means just as much. Freshman Jozabad Sanchez moved to Dallas four years ago and has been a Rangers fan since.

“It’s amazing to have the Rangers in the World Series,” he said. “The Cowboys aren’t doing so great, but with the [Dallas] Mavericks’ NBA title last year and the Rangers this year, Dallas is becoming a huge sports city. It’s great to watch.”

As the game progressed and Pluckers got more and more crowded, screams and sighs could be heard around the restaurant.

Loud cheers erupted when Texas third baseman Adrian Beltre hit a homerun in the bottom of the sixth inning to tie the game up at two runs apiece. However, fans didn’t spend the whole game cheering: Sighs of relief were prevalent throughout the game. When Rangers pitcher C.J. Wilson got out of a pinch in the top of the fifth inning, deep breaths were taken at every table.

Even the employees the Pluckers were getting into the game. John Wamsley, a native of Texas and host at the restaurant, is a big Cardinals fan, so he’s developed a natural rivalry with the other employees.

“It’s fun,” Wamsley said. “Every time the Cardinals are winning, I rub it in their faces and then when the Rangers are winning, they do it right back.”

With Texas holding a 3-2 lead in the series, the thought of a championship is becoming more tangible for many fans.

“If the Rangers won the World Series, that would be epic,” said fan Emily Schendel. “As long as history doesn’t repeat itself and they don’t blow it like last year, it looks good.”

Another fan threatened to go berserk.

“I would go absolutely crazy if they won. It would be awesome,” said Texas fan Neil McCormick.

As the Rangers took the lead in the bottom of the eighth and shut down the Cardinals to win the game, you could sense the excitement around the restaurant. It’s tough to say where the series is going to go from here but hopefully this starts a strong baseball tradition in Dallas,” fan Ben Kovour said.

Kovour, Sheridan and Sanchez all agreed that catcher Mike Napoli should be the MVP of the series.

Where the crowds outside Ranger Ballpark in Arlington came on TV, fans in Austin saw the excitement and hope. “I wish I was there right now,” Kovour said. “Imagine how crazy it must be there. I want to be in that crowd and celebrate this even more.” 

Printed on Tuesday, October 25, 2011 as: Fans celebrate Rangers being on the brink of history

Where have all the Rangers shirts gone?

Remember when the Rangers made the World Series? It wasn't that long ago. Suddenly everyone in Austin cared about baseball. No matter where you went in October, the Rangers were being discussed. 

People were wearing Rangers gear. After each round of the playoffs, the different shirts popped up. Those weird and random shirts with the antlers and the hand were all over the place.

Now...not so much.

Where did all the Rangers fans go? We are one month into the 2011 season and the Rangers continue to win, yet all the shirts and caps are gone.

Come on! Don't do this again. Don't wait until the playoffs again when you actually start caring.

It is ridiculous to see more Yankees, Red Sox and Cubs gear being worn around campus than that of the Rangers or Astros.

I guess there is a reason that the Astros logo is harder to find than Osama Bin Laden, but that is because the team is terrible. Only a brave few, including myself, are able to walk out in the sunlight wearing an Astros shirts. That's a little more understandable.

But the dust needs to come off the Rangers clothes. Or else once again, people are going to continue to have legitimate reasons to not be too keen about Dallas fans.