One inning can make the biggest difference in softball.
The Longhorns played the reigning national champions, the Oklahoma Sooners, incredibly close all weekend long, losing by two runs or less in the first two games of the three-game series. Sunday’s 6-0 shutout wasn’t nearly as close.
The Sooners earned just one run in the series finale, but the Longhorns committed several defensive errors in the top of the second inning that led to five Oklahoma runs.
The Longhorns managed five hits in Sunday’s 6-0 loss. Senior third baseman Celina Felix went 2-for-3 at the plate and senior first baseman Kelli Hanzel hit a triple, but the Longhorns struggled to bring runners home.
“I thought we competed pretty well down the stretch of the game,” head coach Connie Clark said. “But again we gave away a lot of opportunities and just weren’t creative enough to get it done offensively.”
Texas’ offense scored just three total runs in the series and hasn’t been able to exceed that mark since last weekend’s matchup against Houston.
The Longhorns have a history this season of hanging in there with ranked opponents and then stumbling in the final innings, losing by just one or two runs on multiple occasions.
“We’re right there every time in ballgames and we’re just coming up a little short,” senior pitcher Tiarra Davis said. “When we get those key wins in those moments and come out on top I think we’re going to be very successful.”
In the midst of a four-game losing streak, Texas still has chances to rack up some conference wins with series against Texas Tech, Iowa State, Kansas and No. 13 Baylor.
Despite getting swept by Oklahoma, the Longhorns consider the series a good learning experience moving forward.
“I think it builds our mental toughness,” Felix said. “We had to face one of the top teams in the country, so we know how to compete.”
The Longhorns carry a 20-18 record as they get ready to hit the road for next weekend’s three-game series against Texas Tech. The team is still searching for its first conference win as it prepares for the Red Raiders. Texas players understand the importance of sharpening up on defense for the remainder of the season.
“Just play loose, play like how we always do, play comfortable like we usually are in practice,” Felix said. “We have to take that out onto the field when it’s game time.”
With four weeks remaining in the regular season, the team looks toward finishing the rest of the season strong.
“We just need to find a way to continue to play hard,” Clark said. “You can’t give up obviously there’s a lot of ball to be played in the final month and we just have to keep working.”