One game can make all the difference. For the Longhorns this week, that game could be the midweek matchup versus North Texas.
The Mean Green enter the matchup as a formidable opponent — a top-80 RPI team. For Texas (25-20), who just dropped a series versus 158th-ranked Iowa State, this season is in dire need of
In Sunday’s series losing 4-2 defeat, the Longhorns could not achieve any momentum within the offense, mustering just two runs during the contest. In addition, the defense lacked the extra effort it needed to contain the Cyclones and close the game.
“We didn’t compete at the plate,” head coach Connie Clark said. “I thought the tone was set early when you have a couple balls that drop in and you don’t have defenders laying out and getting dirty.”
At the beginning of the season, the team had aspirations of competing in the postseason and beyond. With a pitching staff five deep and a roster filled with both youth and veteran leadership, Texas looked poised to make a run.
“Well I think their expectations are high,” Clark said in February. “They’ll be disappointed if we don’t attack conference and win a championship and get ourselves in the Women’s College World Series. The expectations are high.”
In the Iowa State series and in the last few weeks, Texas failed to drive runners in from scoring position. During the first game against the Cyclones, the Longhorns failed to score a single run combined from a bases loaded situation in the bottom of the third and with runners at second and third in the bottom of the sixth.
Texas lost that game by one run, the tenth such game of the season. This ongoing phenomenon dates back to the series versus the No. 8 Oklahoma Sooners in early April. Offensively there are several issues, but some are stressed more than others.
Timely hitting and execution are key issues that have been emphasized heavily in practice, especially after Iowa State outperformed the Texas offense in the late stretches of each game.
“I think that we played against a team in Iowa State that had really good bat control,” Clark said. “We weren’t able to execute that when it was pretty critical.”
North Texas will start senior pitcher Stacey Underwood, who sports a 3.09 ERA and 12 wins this season. With a record of 24-23, the Mean Green are no slouch of a foe.
Texas has battled the fifth-toughest ranked schedule, one that featured respectable non-conference opponents such as North Texas, UCLA, Arizona and Texas State. While the team has lost 20 games this season, the quality of competition it faced
cannot be ignored.
“I think we have to find a way to have some takeaways from it,” Clark said. “We have to find the good amid the low points and I think that’s what we’ll talk about.”