junior catcher

Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

Whether she’s in the classroom, on the softball field or thousands of feet in the air, junior catcher Erin Shireman excels.

Erin is an aerospace engineering student and four-time Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll selection. During her freshman season, she was named to the Academic All-Big 12 Rookie Team. On the diamond, she has played four different positions for the Longhorns, spending most of her time as a catcher.

But what sets her furthest apart from most utility players is her private pilot’s license.

Erin’s father, Kirk, worked for NASA, so aerospace engineering has always been an interest of hers, she said. A few years ago, Kirk started flying again, and that prompted Erin to take lessons and earn her license too. The skills she uses when she flies carry over to other aspects of her life.

“It helps with softball and school a lot,” Erin said. “Whenever you’re flying, you have to constantly look at the instruments, make quick decisions, assess things and respond — kind of like catching. When I’m working on problems for different classes, I look at the formulas and sample problems, and stuff actually comes into play when I’m flying or in the wind tunnel, too.”

Erin’s versatility has helped her grow into a key fixture for Texas. She has played in 45 games this season, including 44 starts, as a catcher, third baseman and designated hitter. Head coach Connie Clark said she appreciates the intelligence Erin brings to the game.

“It couldn’t be better that she’s a catcher for us — that field general who just has a really good, big-picture sense about things,” Clark said. “She’s got a tremendous work ethic and a competitor’s mentality. She comes in early and works and is really a student of the game.”

That work ethic has helped Erin improve her offensive output. Early in her career, Erin struggled with chasing balls outside of the strike zone. She finished last season with a .284 batting average, three home runs and 16 RBIs in 34 games played. She currently boasts a .307 average, tied for third-best on the team, and eight home runs and 39 RBIs, both the second-best records on the team.

Erin put significant work into improving her hitting during the offseason. She said she believes her time as a catcher has influenced her offense as well.

“My whole job is to catch pitches and read the release out of a hand, so I think that comes into play, and it helps a lot with being able to recognize the spins quicker and know how pitchers think,” Erin said.

As Texas (32–14, 7–5 Big 12) prepares for a three-game road series against Big 12 opponent Oklahoma State (20–28, 3–10), Erin and Clark both want to focus on the little things, while improving on consistency, to get the victory.

“I don’t know that we’ve hit on all cylinders yet,” Clark said. “We’ve had some great pitching outings and just didn’t get the timely hitting. Other times, we didn’t get the pitching, but we got the great offense, so I’d like to see it all come together.”

The series takes flight at 7 p.m. on Friday in Stillwater, Oklahoma, followed by afternoon games Saturday and Sunday.

Oklahoma junior catcher Anthony Hermelyn was named the Big 12 Player of the Week after hitting .529 last week in four games.
Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

Oklahoma’s junior catcher Anthony Hermelyn was named Big 12 Player of the Week, and Texas Tech’s senior pitcher Cameron Smith earned Big 12 Pitcher of the Week honors.

Kansas’ freshman third baseman Matt McLaughlin and junior pitcher Blake Smith were named co-Big 12 Newcomer of the Week award.

This week’s awards were the first for Hermelyn, McLaughlin and Smith. This is Smith’s second Big 12 pitcher of the week award this season.

Losses create Big 12 chaos

Upsets this weekend set two top teams in the Big 12 back.

No. 8 TCU, the conference’s second-ranked team going into the weekend, lost two games against Kansas State. The Wildcats piled on 14 runs on 18 hits Friday in a 14–4 win over the Horned Frogs. TCU evened the series Saturday with a 9–0 win. However, Kansas State prevailed 6–2 Sunday, and the series loss dropped the Horned Frogs into a third place tie with Texas Tech in the conference.

Kansas (15–21, 3–6 Big 12) upset No. 15 Oklahoma State, dropping the Cowboys from sole possession of first place to a first-place tie with Oklahoma. The Jayhawks lost Friday’s opening game, 2–7, but rallied to win Saturday’s game, 3–2, and clinched the series, 4–2, Sunday.    

Five Big 12 players named to Golden Spikes Award Midseason List

The list, which is composed of 60 NCAA Division I baseball players, features three TCU pitchers — junior Riley Ferrell and seniors Preston Morrison and redshirt sophomore Mitchell Traver – Oklahoma State’s senior pitcher Michael Freeman and Texas’ senior left-fielder Ben Johnson.

The award honors the country’s best amateur player. The list will be cut to 30 players and semifinalists’ names will be announced on May 22. The winner will be named on June 23.

Big 12 teams remain ranked

TCU is ranked in the top 10 in four of the national polls, despite losing two games this weekend. The Horned Frogs are ranked as high as No. 6 in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll.

Oklahoma State is also ranked in four of the major polls, ranked as high as No. 10 in the Collegiate Baseball. The Big 12 has one other team ranked, with Texas Tech at No. 25 in Baseball America’s poll. Oklahoma received votes in two polls.

West Virginia opens new stadium

West Virginia opened a new baseball stadium this weekend: Monongalia County Ballpark.

The Mountaineers christened their new stadium with a 6–5 walk-off win against Butler in front of a record crowd of 3,110.

West Virginia went on to sweep the Bulldogs with an 8–0 win on Saturday and a 12–4 win on Sunday.

Taylor Hoagland is congratulated by head coach Connie Clark during the Longhorns’ win against Houston.

Photo Credit: Shweta Gulati | Daily Texan Staff

When junior catcher Mandy Ogle threw out her tenth base-stealer this season against Oklahoma last weekend, she was on a roll. No. 7 Texas had topped its first No. 1 team since 2006, and as the seventh inning came around, it looked to steal the series. Taylor Hoagland and Brejae Washington strikeouts left Texas runs away from the goal. But Ogle wasn’t going to focus on the past.

“Losing this hits us all pretty hard,” Ogle said. “But I think it’s going to light a fire underneath us and we’re going to come out next weekend and work hard.”

The Longhorns (42-6, 12-2) did just that in a three-game sweep against Texas Tech (29-24, 3-12) this weekend. Ogle’s fire propelled her to go 4-for-9 with a team-high five RBIs against the Red Raiders. She also caught two more stealing this weekend, totaling four tags in the last five contests.

Taylor Thom and Hoagland powered the offense Friday, accounting for five runs, five stolen bases and four hits. In the circle, ace pitcher Blaire Luna allowed only one hit in the first five innings. Paired with a four-run fifth inning, Texas led 8-0 when Holly Kern took the mound for Luna. But Kern nearly allowed the Red Raiders to tie the game, allowing six runs on five hits in the bottom of the sixth inning. Luna reentered in the seventh to retire the Red Raiders in order.

Saturday went more smoothly, as Kim Bruins allowed just one run off four hits for a complete game. A three-tiered Texas Tech staff couldn’t keep the Longhorns at bay — most notably Hoagland homers in the first and third innings. En route to a 4-1 victory, Washington scored as well on a two-for-three day to keep the top of the lineup strong.

Closing out Sunday, the Longhorns combined their weekend efforts for many repeats. Luna again struck out 10 as the Longhorns capitalized in the fifth for another 4-1 victory. But beyond the numbers, Texas reasserted itself as a Big 12 powerhouse after a tough weekend. Hoagland extended her on-base streak to 56-straight games with a .639 on-base percentage this season, while Luna joined Cat Osterman as the only Texas pitchers to fan 300 a season in three seasons.