Red McCombs Field

Junior outfielder Lindsey Stephens and the Longhorns look to extend their eight-game winning streak against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

After sweeping Texas State this past weekend in a two-game stint, Texas faces Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at Red and Charline McCombs Field on Tuesday.

The Longhorns (26–9) have earned an 11–3 record at home, winning the last three on walk-offs. Proudly possessing an eight-game win streak, Texas, which has outplayed Texas A&M-CC on the stat sheet this season, looks to extend its success against the Islanders, who are on a four-game streak of their own but control a mere 7–8 away record. 

With early boosts proving effective, the Longhorns have scored in the first inning in seven straight and have hit a total of 51 runs in the first frame this season — almost a quarter of the team’s run total and the most scored in any inning.

Texas will have the offensive advantage in Tuesday’s nonconference matchup. In their 26 wins, the Longhorns have come from behind in 10 of them, posting five walk-off victories. 

Outscoring the Islanders (12–21–1) this season 223–119, the Longhorns have more than doubled their opponent in triples and near-doubled in RBIs. The Islanders have hit 15 long balls, just three more than junior outfielder Lindsey Stephens alone.

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi struggled early on, losing its first eight games before posting a tie against South Dakota and then losing three more. Since then, the Islanders have earned a 12–10 record, defeating opponents ranging from Houston to Nicholls to Sam Houston State — their great margin of victory of the season: six.

In the circle, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi sophomore pitcher Liz Carter allows over just over 3.5 runs per seven innings, striking out 75 in 129 innings. In 23 fewer innings, Texas ace freshman Erica Wright boasts a 2.44 ERA with 102 strikeouts.

From behind the bat, the Islanders maintain a solid lineup with team-leading senior shortstop Hayley Galloway batting .321, followed by senior outfielder Mickayla Cochran and sophomore catcher Brittney Morse batting .307 each. 

Yet the Longhorns’ top four batters rank higher than all of the Islanders, led by Wong hitting with a .387 average and followed by Stephens, Shireman and junior first baseman Holly Kern with .368, .333 and .330, respectively.

On an individual level, hitting just below .300, sophomore shortstop Devon Tunning has reached base in a career-best 20 straight games. Just behind her, sophomore outfielder Stephanie Wong has reached in 18 straight, and Stephens and junior catcher Erin Shireman have both reached in 10 straight.

After the game against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m., Texas will host Oklahoma at home Friday.

Taylor Hoagland leads a powerful Texas lineup with a .433 average. The star outfielder is also tied for the team lead with 13 steals with junior Brejae Washington. 

Photo Credit: Emily Ng | Daily Texan Staff

The No. 10 Longhorns will host the Texas State Bobcats on Friday and Sunday at Red and Charline McCombs Field and will travel to Bobcat Softball Stadium on Saturday as part of the three-game series. The Bobcats (3-17) have struggled mightily this year, picking up their only wins against Mississippi Valley State and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

The Bobcats have struggled even more against Texas pitchers, not scoring a run against the Longhorns since the sixth inning of the March 30, 2011, contest in San Marcos, a span of 22-straight scoreless frames.

The weekend after this weekend’s series, March 14-16, the Longhorns will make the long trek to Fullerton, Calif., for the Judi Garman Classic. The classic is full of tough competition including No. 3 Arizona State and No. 19 Washington. The Longhorns will also be taking on North Carolina State (11-5-1), Depaul (12-8) and Penn State (4-9).

Arizona State (21-1) started the season 21-0 before dropping its first game to the first Big 12 opponent they faced: Baylor.

With the conclusion of the Judi Garman Classic comes the conclusion of Texas’ non-conference season.

While it appears that head coach Connie Clark is beginning to figure out her lineup and rotation, she will be looking to have it set for the start of Big 12 play March 23.

Clark will have her hands full as the Longhorns are clicking on all cylinders, especially after two impressive victories over No. 13 Louisiana-Lafayette in the double-header Wednesday where the Longhorns won, 9-4 and 7-1. But that’s a dilemma she doesn’t mind.

Taylor Hoagland, Stephanie Ceo, Taylor Thom and Mandy Ogle all boast batting averages greater than .400, while Brejae Washington is a hit away at .397. The top two in the circle, Blaire Luna and Kim Bruins, are a combined 16-0 with a 1.13 ERA.

Luna is currently leading Big 12 pitchers in strikeouts, complete games and opponents’ batting average, in addition to being second in ERA. Thom is leading the Big 12 in doubles while fourth in home runs and total bases.

Published on March 8, 2013 as "Spring break brings more tests for Texas". 

When Lamar, Tulsa and Utah State step onto Red and Charline McCombs Field this weekend, they’ll have a tough time beating the tournament’s host. 

In the undefeated Texas softball team, currently ranked No. 6, the visiting teams meet a powerhouse of Big 12 leaders. The dominating pitching staff leads the conference in ERA, runs and hits allowed to complement a .977 fielding percentage. 

But opponents won’t get a break on defense, either, as the Longhorns currently decorate the plate with conference records including 103 hits, 83 RBIs and 95 runs.

“We’re not going to change our game plan and go into conservative mode,” head coach Connie Clark said. “We’re going to stay in and keep our foot on the pedal. That’s something we do well and need to take advantage of it.”

Continuing to push forward, the Longhorns kick off the Texas Invitational against Lamar (3-4) Friday for the teams’ first-ever meeting. They then swing straight into a tilt with No. 24 Tulsa (7-3) at 6:30 for their first ranked opponent of the season. The competition will likely be a step up, but the Longhorns are driven.

“We have a lot of momentum, our defense has been spectacular and our hitting has been on,” Freshman pitcher/first baseman Holly Kern (3-0) said. “We want to aim high, win games and as long as we win games, we have a chance to get [to the World Series].”

With two runs in Texas’ 5-0 victory over Houston Baptist on Wednesday, senior Taylor Hoagland tied Lexy Bennett’s school record with 166 runs. She looks to break the record this weekend and add to her Texas home run record (47).

“I’m working through some things right now and can definitely be better,” Hoagland said. “There is always room for improvement so I have been working a lot this week on getting through the zone.”

Texas faces Utah State for its final round-robin game Saturday at 10:30 a.m. Semifinal games are set for 4 and 6 p.m. on the same day, followed by the third-place/championship match. 

Published on February 22, 2013 as "Undefeated Longhorns host Texas Invitational". 

Softball: Texas draws 3rd seed in NCAA tournament

Texas draws 3rd seed, hosts regional

Texas has received a number three seed in the NCAA tournament, and will host a regional from May 20-22 at Red and Charline McCombs Field.  The field is made up of 64 teams, and splits them into 16 regional pods that play in a double elimination bracket style tournament to advance to the next round.

The other teams in the Austin regional are Texas State (33-23), Houston (40-16), and Louisiana Lafayette (49-9). This is a favorable draw for Texas as they have already beaten Houston and Texas State on the year, and they will be playing in front of their home crowd, a place where they have only lost 3 times on the year. 

However Texas should not overlook these teams, as this is the exact round the Longhorns lost in last year, in the same situation as well hosting their own regional in Austin. Though after falling short of the Big 12 title look for the Longhorns to come out hungry and motivated to move into the next round.

 

Texas wins 9 All Big 12 awards

Texas received nine All-Big 12 selections’ yesterday the most in the Big 12, including seven All-Big 12 team honors, and Big 12 Player of the Year, and Big 12 Freshman of the Year.

Senior Amy Hooks was the recipient of the Big 12 player of the Year award, the first ever Longhorn to win in that category. Hooks was a definition of a team leader on the year hitting .338 with 12 home runs and 35 RBI’s, on top of playing near perfect defense behind the plate.

Taylor Thom was the selection for the freshman of the year award, and is the sixth winner of the award in Texas history, following Blaire Luna from the previous year. Thom hit .356 on the season with 11 home run and 41 RBI’s.

Hooks, Luna, Thom, and sophomore Taylor Hoagland were selected to the All-Big 12 first team. While freshman Brejae Washington, junior Lexy Bennett and junior Nadia Taylor were chosen for second team accolades.   

Fans came early, despite the cold, out to Red and Charline McCombs Field to watch the Longhorns take on the Louisville Cardinals in the 2011 softball season opener Thursday night. The offensive side of the ball woke up in the third inning to put the Longhorns up early. After that, they never looked back, finishing the game up 6-4 on 10 hits.

Sophomore starting pitcher Blaire Luna struck out her first two batters and finished with 13 total strikeouts.

“It’s great, but I think tonight really goes to my defense,” Luna said. “Taylor Thom did a really good job and Amy Hooks helped me work through a lot of stuff… I have a lot of confidence in them.”

Junior first baseman Lexy Bennett made the first hit of the season for Texas — a single towards center field in the bottom of the first.

Unfortunately it wasn’t until the third when the Texas offense woke up. Sophomore right fielder Taylor Hoagland started off the bottom of the third with a home run over the left center wall and it wasn’t long before Bennett followed with a back-to-back home run in the same direction.

After two runs in the third, the Longhorns sealed the victory in the fifth inning when they scored an additional two runs to make it 4-0. The Cardinals made a valiant effort to close the scoring gap, scoring twice in the sixth, but it was not enough to upset the Longhorns.

In order to put to rest any doubts, the Longhorns brought in another two runs in their final at bat during the bottom of the sixth.

With the victory close and the temperature dropping, Luna finished the Cardinals quickly in the top of the seventh, striking out the last batter to end the game.

Even with Luna’s stellar night, Hoagland and Bennett were just as crucial. Hoagland finished the night with one hit off three at bats, culminating in two runs and one RBI. At one point, she hit a foul ball clear into the parking lot at UFCU Disch-Faulk field next door — a distance not many batters have achieved at McCombs field.

Bennett was even more impressive at the plate finishing with three hits off four at bats. She was responsible for half of the Longhorns’ point total, brining in two runs personally and batting in another.

“[Lexy] is so consistent,” Texas head Coach Connie Clark said. “She’s probably our most consistent performer on both sides of the ball. She will be very much of an anchor this year.”

The Longhorns face Tulsa at 6:30 p.m. Friday and Northern Illinois at 1:30 pm on Saturday. Highly touted freshman pitcher Rachel Fox will start against Tulsa.
 

The Texas 2011 softball season starts tonight against Louisville in the Texas Classic at Red and Charline McCombs Field — the same place where the 2010 season ended painfully in the regional round of the NCAA tournament.

Last season ended on a sour note. First, the top-seeded Longhorns lost in the second game of the Big 12 Championship, and then they were sent home early from the NCAA tournament. It was even more disappointing because the team won the Big 12 regular season title and entered the national tournament with title aspirations.

“We built expectations through the year,” said Texas head coach Connie Clark. “Last year we were the underdog and built expectations as we went through. [It] felt like we fell short when we got to the NCAAs.”

The team will now use the lessons learned from the loss to improve on last year’s unwanted results.

“It didn’t end how we wanted it to, and we went back into the locker room after that and were like, ‘Is this really happening?’ Everyone has a sour feeling about that, and now it’s fuel to our fire,” said junior Nadia Taylor.

The Longhorns hope that fire burns all the way to this season’s Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City.

“As much as you try to teach what it takes to win, it doesn’t replace that feeling of actually being there. They can now look back on the experience and say, ‘Oh yeah, now we know what the coaches were talking about,’” Clark said.

The team uses this year’s national tournament as motivation when practicing or working out, and they even have a motto: 6-8-11, which is the date of the NCAA championship game.

“Six-eight-eleven is our end result, the last day of the World Series,” Taylor said. “We’re going to be there. There is no doubt in our mind that we will be there on 6-8-11. It’s on our mind every day; we break every huddle with 6-8-11.”

Of course, the team is careful not to look too far ahead, knowing they first need to focus on their non-conference schedule and then Big 12 play.

That quest to repeat as conference champs hinges on the Longhorns’ pitching staff, which is headlined by reigning Big 12 pitcher of the year Blaire Luna. Luna is looking to build on a stellar freshman campaign in which she maintained a .127 opponent batting average and threw 10 full-game shutouts.

“I think she’s growing so quickly as a sophomore. Freshman year was a great start for her, but she’s only getting better from there. She’s keying up on little things, so you can expect great things from her this year as well,” said junior Courtney Craig.

This is a potent team that is hitting the field with an impressive blend of speed and power, alongside some excellent pitching. Most importantly, Texas enters the season ranked No. 15 in the country, with a great starting point to repeat as Big 12 champions and eventually to play for the ultimate goal: 6-8-11.