The Longhorns have won 32 of their 53 games this season, but it could be game 54 against Baylor that determines Texas’ NCAA Tournament destiny.
Coming into this week, the Longhorns were ranked 27th in the RPI, a computer ranking that the selection committee uses to pick the national seeds and at-large teams. However, with a win over the Bears on Sunday, that ranking will likely rise and increase the chances of the Longhorns making the tournament.
Texas comes into the game looking to take the season series from Baylor for the fifth straight year. The Bears won the makeup game Tuesday night in Waco, 2-1, behind solid pitching from senior ace Whitney Canion. Longhorn freshman Tiarra Davis pitched another strong game with only two runs surrendered and five hits given up over six innings, but struggled to control her changeup. Head coach Connie Clark hopes the off-speed pitch will be better this outing.
“I think that could have really been the difference in this game for her,” Clark said.
The Longhorns will also get another chance to see Canion, who they’ve had success against before. Back on March 22, Texas got seven hits and three runs off of Canion, including a three-run home run from senior catcher Mandy Ogle in a 4-1 win.
But Tuesday night, it was Canion who had the upper hand, allowing only one run in seven innings. She shut down a big opportunity for the Longhorns, who had runners at second and third with one out in the fourth inning.
Sunday’s game will also have more on the line than simple bragging rights. While Baylor has an NCAA tournament spot clinched and will also likely be hosting a regional, Texas’ spot in the tournament isn’t as certain. With an RPI rank of 27, the Longhorns are likely into the tournament even with a loss to the 17th ranked team in the country, but a win against the Bears would help their resume considerably.
Texas will find out if and where it will play in the regionals Sunday night with the selection show on ESPNU at 9 p.m. Regional play will begin Friday.