Like the last couple squads before them, Texas was expected to go to the Women’s College World Series. Unlike those previous teams, they did.
Once the Longhorns arrived in Oklahoma City, the expectations were not as well-defined. Two-and-out wouldn’t do but surely no one predicted, much less expected, Texas to win it all. Not with Oklahoma, one of the best teams to suit up in recent memory, on the same side of the bracket.
So Texas did something in between. The Longhorns advanced to the WCWS semis, where they fell to Tennessee, 2-1, on June 2. They began the WCWS the same way they started it in 2006, by beating Arizona State.
Then – after a brief tornado scare postponed it – came the loss to Oklahoma, as expected, before the Longhorns’ last day of the season, when they proved that they were the best team in the history of the program.
It started with a 3-0 win over Florida, marking the first time the Gators were blanked all year. Luna was brilliant in what would be Texas’ 51st and final win of the year, striking out 14 and allowing only one hit.
She was then asked to do something she hadn’t done all year – pitch two complete games in one day. Luna surrendered just two runs on three hits while striking out 12 but issued a season-high eight walks as the Longhorns’ season ended in a one-run loss to the Lady Vols.
It marked the third time Texas advanced to the semis in Oklahoma City, the other two times with Cat Osterman in the circle. While Osterman will go down as the best player in school history, none of her teams can match what the Longhorns did this season.
Each of the top three hitters in Texas’ lineup – Taylor Hoagland, Brejae Washington and Taylor Thom – struggled in the WCWS but hold multiple school records and spearheaded an offense that was much more productive than any of Osterman’s teams.
Luna’s performance on the final day of the season rivaled that of anything Osterman did. The numbers – 288 pitches, 26 strikeouts, four hits allowed over 14 innings – barely scratch the surface of what she accomplished two Sundays ago. She did it all with a tight forearm and a blood blister on her throwing hand. Still, she said she could have lasted at least a couple more innings.
“It is upsetting that we came up short,” Luna said. “I’ve grown so much as a person this year, and I’ve accomplished a lot. I just really couldn’t be any more proud of my team and of myself.”
The 2006 team won more games, the 2003 squad had a better winning percentage and the 2005 group went just as far in the WCWS. All three had the best player to ever put on a Texas uniform.
But the 2013 Longhorns softball team was the best in school history.