One of the biggest problems for the Longhorns this season has been maintaining consistency. They’ve been inconsistent in scoring with runners on base, inconsistent in the circle at times and inconsistent hitting the ball. Texas has swept only one series — at Iowa State — while dropping one game in three other series.
But coming off of a seven-run fifth inning in a run rule victory over Kansas on Sunday, the Longhorns are looking to ride that wave of momentum past Baylor Tuesday and Sunday and into a second-place finish in the Big 12.
“Whitney Canion is a great pitcher, but the way our offense is going now, we can take any pitcher in the country,” freshman pitcher Tiarra Davis said.
The Longhorns had success against Canion, the ace for the Bears, in their first meeting back on March 22. Senior catcher Mandy Ogle lined a double and hit a three-run home run as Texas made Canion throw 104 pitches to 24 batters. Davis, on the other hand, shut down the Baylor offense, allowing only a solo home run, which Davis admitted after the game was a mistake pitch.
Since that game, however, a lot has changed for both teams.
Baylor has won its past eight conference games and 13 of its last 16 games overall. Each of the three Bears pitchers boast an ERA under one. Canion is 25-9 this season with an ERA of 1.44 and an opponent’s batting average .168.
Meanwhile, the hitting for the Longhorns has been hit or miss over the past two series against Oklahoma State and Kansas. Texas pulled out a run-rule win once each of those series, but also lost a game in the series because they couldn’t hit. In the first two games of the last series, Kansas ace Kelsey Kessler kept the Longhorns off balance with slow pitches and a lot of movement. The strategy worked as Kessler held Texas to three runs and nine hits over 10 innings pitched.
The Longhorns will also likely have to win at least one of the two games against the Bears to solidify their spot in the NCAA tournament. Texas is ranked 27th in the latest RPI rankings, but with Oklahoma winning the Big 12 and taking that automatic qualifying spot, nothing is guaranteed.
Texas is headed to a place where they’ve had success in the recent past. The Longhorns have taken four of the last five games played in Waco and are 11-6 all-time at Getterman Stadium.
That, along with the fact that the Longhorns have seen Canion and done well against her, has head coach Connie Clark feeling good going into the season’s final two games.
“For some reason, we always play really well over in Waco and we feel really confident facing their pitchers,” Clark said.