Bennett leading Longhorns early

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Lexy Bennett hurt her arm last season when she was hit by a pitch. Her return will help Texas and she said she is 100 percent healthy.

Photo Credit: Marisa Vasquez | Daily Texan Staff

Senior infielder Lexy Bennett is excited to be back on the field. Towards the end of the 2011 regular season, Bennett was forced to watch her team from the bench after a rouge pitch injured her right arm in a game against Iowa State. After turning in a .438 batting average with 57 hits and 41 RBIs last season, the senior’s presence on the field is crucial to the Longhorn’s game plan as they seek to make it to the NCAA Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City, Okla. this June.

“I am really excited to get back on the field,” Bennett said. “It was really hard for me last year, and even coming back for the regionals I was excited, but I still wasn’t 100 percent healthy. Coming back I have just been working on staying focused and staying healthy.”

Along with fellow seniors Courtney Craig and Nadia Taylor, the Kingwood, Texas native was elected as a team captain for the 2012 season. This year’s squad, along with the Texas coaching staff, will be looking to the three seniors to get them over the hump that has stood in the way of a successful postseason the past couple of years.

“These three have earned the trust of their teammates,” said Texas head coach Connie Clark. “They’ve walked the walk and they have the ear of their team.”

Prior to the start of the 2012 season, Bennett, along with juniors Blaire Luna and Taylor Hoagland, was named to the preseason watch list for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award. Last season Bennett finished in the top 25 for the award before her injury in April.

So far through six games, Bennett has lived up to preseason hype. With a .600 batting average, seven runs and 12 RBI already, Bennett was named the Big 12 Player of the Week after last week’s Texas Classic Tournament. As the Longhorns take the field for their second four-team tournament in as many weeks, Bennett will be a huge factor against the higher quality teams that will be coming to Austin this weekend.

The Longhorns will host four teams in the Time Warner Cable Texas Invitational tournament this weekend. The first round starts today, with Texas playing their first contest against the University of Pittsburgh at 2 p.m. Texas will also see action against the University of Tennessee and the University of Illinois. Round robin play will continue through Saturday afternoon before a semifinal Saturday afternoon. Sunday will feature the championship and consolation games. Longhorn Network will broadcast all Texas games throughout the weekend.

“A few of the teams coming in this weekend have a lot of team speed, specifically Tennessee,” Clark said. “I am looking forward to the behaviors and making sure that we are coming out, staying pitch-to-pitch and bringing the energy. We need to control the tempo.”

Clark is hoping that having two games every day, several days in a row, will help Texas prepare for the grind of conference season and for the NCAA Women’s College World Series.

“I think we are all hungry to get back. Everyone [has] worked hard,” Bennett said. “It is time to step up and take charge.” 

Printed on Friday, February 17, 2012 as: Offense will benefit from Bennett's return after missing end of last season