Texas Softball’s torrid offensive start to the season has cooled off as of late. On Saturday, however, the Longhorns showed off their full potential from the plate, as eight Texas players picked up hits in a 10-1 run-rule win over Kansas.
It hadn’t been since April 5 against Texas State that Texas had scored more than five runs in a contest. Games against solid pitching staffs in Texas Tech and Oklahoma had left the Longhorns searching for ways to score more runs. Saturday came as somewhat of a breakthrough.
“It really was (good),” Texas head coach Mike White said. “It was good to break out, a lot of people got hits today. We got some good RBIs, and Brooke (Bolinger) had a great game pitching.”
Texas’ breakthrough really came in the third inning. After building a 4-0 lead in the first two, the Longhorns got a rally rolling with one out. Several walks loaded the bases and sent home two run. Then, first baseman Lauren Burke got things going with a two-RBI single up the middle. Catcher Mary Iakopo followed with an RBI base knock of her own. Just like that, the Longhorns had scored six runs in the inning.
The Longhorns put up big numbers were despite odd weather circumstances. Lawrence, Kansas, was experiencing wind gusts of up to 37 miles per hour, adding an extra level of difficulty to almost every element of the game.
“It’s even tough on the pitchers,” White said. “They’re always falling over during their windups. It’s always playing havoc with you. I thought we did a good job. There’s a few fly balls I thought we handled really well.”
This didn’t make life any easier for Bolinger. Yet, she pushed on to have a very nice start, throwing four innings and allowing one run on just three hits.
Bolinger has been thrust into the second spot in the starting rotation after pitcher Shea O’Leary injured her ankle. O’Leary made her first appearance in the circle Saturday since suffering the injury, coming into the game for Bolinger in the fifth and closing out the final inning of the run-rule finish. Bolinger has been more than just good enough for the Longhorns in the second spot. She and O’Leary will both look to fill up starts behind ace Miranda Elish as postseason play approaches.
Saturday’s win may have just been a simple victory over a 15–31 Kansas team, but the blowout meant more for Texas.
This weekend serves as proving ground for a Texas lineup searching for its footing. The Big 12 Championship rapidly approaches, and the Longhorns are going to need all the hitting they can get, according to White.
“It’s more about us getting the bats rolling,” White said. “We have to start hitting the ball better, we know that. … Obviously today, they were pretty relaxed, and we need to continue that into tomorrow.”