Horns return after West Coast swing

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While most Texas students were enjoying their spring break, the Longhorns were hard at work winning another tournament title in California last week. Texas went 4-0, including a 12-0 drubbing of a previously undefeated Washington squad as the Longhorns won by virtue of the mercy rule.

“The Washington game was really fun, we thought we had a great chance of winning the game, but we came out and run ruled them and it was awesome,” said sophomore Torie Schmidt.

As impressive a win as it was for the Longhorns, an individual performance in that game managed to steal the show. Sophomore All-American Blaire Luna pitched the first perfect game of her career, shutting down a Washington team that entered the game hitting .406, and stamping her name into to the Texas record books.

“It was awesome, especially being my first one and to do it against such a great team, it was so cool to see how excited everyone was for me,” Luna said. “I think it’s awesome that I got it, but the majority of [the credit] goes to my offense, defense and [catcher] Amy [Hooks]. Just being on the same page with her really helps.”

Coming into the tournament, Luna was by no means struggling with a record of 10-2, but was working through quite a few aspects of her game on the mound. Luna employed a new pitch that she developed during the summer and focused on sharpening the mental aspects of her game to become a better all-around pitcher.

“I know that we had some athletes working through things — specifically Blaire,” said head coach Connie Clark. “I know that’s the main thing that we talked about when we were done; that you have to keep putting in the work and stay consistent. She’s done that over the last few weeks, but still hasn’t had back-to-back outing where she was feeling great.”

Out in California, Luna definitely seemed ready, going 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA. Those three games included 19 innings of work, 30 strikeouts and mostly empty base paths as she only allowed nine runners to reach base in those three outings.

Luna’s dominating performance earned her national player of the week awards from the National Fastpitch Coaches Association and USA Softball.

“Being named national player of the week is a great honor and I am very proud to earn this award for the Texas softball program,” Luna said. “It would not be possible to win an award like this without our great offense, fantastic defense and the excellent pitch-calling and support of my catcher Amy Hooks. With such a great group of players around me it makes it easy to excel in
the circle.”

These weren’t the only two accolades that Luna received in the past week. She was one of 12 athletes that were invited to compete for a spot on the U.S. national team this summer, giving her the opportunity to represent her country on the international stage against the best competition in the world.

Despite how important all the awards are to Luna and her personal resume, Luna and her teammates will take away something much more important than trophies from the
week — confidence.

“I think it will help us more than anything confidence-wise,” the pitcher said.

Luna and the Longhorns will look to continue to roll forward brimming with newly found confidence today. The eighth-ranked Longhorns face Texas A&M Corpus Christi in a double header, with the first game starting at 5 p.m.