While the schedule shows that only two games have been played over the past two days, the total innings played tells a different story.
In addition to Friday’s 9-5 victory over Texas Tech, the Longhorns tied program history by defeating the Red Raiders 4-1 in 14 innings, the same amount of innings as two regulation college softball games.
The wins represent the first two Big 12 victories tallied by Texas this year — coming into the week the team carried an 0-6 conference record.
“Last night it was tremendous to see us be that tenacious and persistent for that entire 14 innings,” head coach Connie Clark said. “I think that was hopefully a real turning point for us. We could have given up, but I thought our persistence was incredible.”
While Thursday’s game featured accurate pitching and defensive effort, Friday’s game featured an improved Texas offense, which had struggled to score more than four runs in a game since the end of March.
Leading the team on offense was senior Kelli Hanzel and junior Randel Leahy, who had five hits and five RBI combined. Senior Tiarra Davis and freshman Taylor Ellsworth each had an RBI in the game, while senior Devon Tunning tallied three runs scored.
“I think we need to focus on the little things,” Hanzel said. “Timely hitting as well just things like that. It's just really small things but those can turn games around for us.”
In addition to a strong offensive performance in game two and a test of endurance in game one, the pair of victories clinched the first road series win since mid-March, when the team beat Cal State Fullerton two games to one.
“I’m pleased,” Clark said. “Obviously anytime you’re doing it on somebody else’s turf it's meaningful and we needed it. We’ve been fighting so hard and not getting the outcomes.”
The victories over Tech come one week after a sweep at the hands of the No. 10 Oklahoma Sooners, who won two of the games by margins of one run and two runs.
The close losses to Oklahoma continued the season-long trend of losing to highly-ranked opponents by slim margins. Texas takes positive takeaways from every game, including the losses.
“We keep saying we’re right there,” Davis said. “We keep looking at that as a positive thing because we see glimpses of great moments from our team.”
The series so far has been a change in the narrative of the Longhorns season, which has been defined by close losses and near upsets against various opponents.
Texas has the opportunity to close out a series sweep for the first time this season and will look for a balanced performance across the board to get the job done.
“I think we need to continue to apply our game plan offensively,” Clark said. “We’ve seen their entire pitching staff so we’ll have a similar game plan as we head into tomorrow. Hopefully we can get enough from our defense and our pitching.”