The sandy beaches and cool blue water did nothing to distract the Longhorns from doing their job.
The No. 6 Longhorns took a break from conference play and flew to Hawaii to participate in the Spring Fling Tournament hosted by the University of Hawaii in Honolulu. Texas went 4-1 during spring break, bringing their record to 23-2 for the season and 3-0 in Big 12 play.
Even though the Longhorns did not escape the tournament unscathed, their lone loss to the No. 2 California Golden Bears does little to blemish their otherwise stellar record.
“Cal is a great ball club, and I think we have a great ball club,” said Texas head coach Connie Clark about the loss which snapped the Longhorns’ 12-game streak. “We were in that game the entire time. We competed well. We did our part in keeping ourselves in the game. One swing of the bat in the seventh inning could have made the difference.”
The Longhorns shut out No 18. Hawaii 4-0 before dominating Winthrop University 7-1 midway through the week. A 10-2 victory over Marist University set up the 6-3 heartbreaker to California in a doubleheader this past Friday.
On Saturday, Winthrop came back for another shot at the Longhorns but was shut down 9-2.
The practice will be good as Texas starts the meat of its conference play this weekend with a road trip to Ames, Iowa to face the Iowa State Cyclones.
In the circle, the Texas pitching staff had a successful weekend. Star right hander Blaire Luna, who is now 9-1 after suffering her first loss against Cal, picked up a season-high 16 strikeouts against Hawaii in game one.
“Blaire stayed focused and went one pitch at a time,” Clark said. “She stayed very zeroed-in and battled extremely well ... I told Blaire to keep her head up. The key will be how she prepares against teams down the road.”
Junior Kim Bruins was two outs away from a perfect game in the 7-1 contest against Winthrop University. Bruins, who is 4-1 on the season, gave up one run off two hits with five strikeouts in the circle. Freshman Gabby Smith and sophomore Rachel Fox each pitched complete games against Marist and Withrop, with Fox coming in as relief against Cal.
Offensively, the Longhorns were as consistent this week as they have been all season.
Junior Taylor Hoagland headlined the tournament with her first career multiple home run game against Winthrop Saturday afternoon. Hoagland’s two home runs push her total to 31, fourth in the Texas record books and five behind first place.
The Texas bats out-scored opponents 33-11. Sophomore infielder Karina Scott continued to impress throughout the week. In the opening game against Hawaii, Scott had a season high three RBI in addition to a two-run home run. Her persistence at the plate has been building the past couple of weeks and has not gone unnoticed.
“Karina Scott was hot [last Monday],” Clark said. “She battled hard and stayed with the at-bat and got some great outcomes. The dugout was feeding on that.”