The Longhorns have played a whopping 11 games against ranked opponents this season. They’ll add one more to the list Wednesday when the team travels down I-35 to face the No. 25 Texas State Bobcats.
Wednesday night’s game will be the first of several tough tests Texas has scheduled over the next few weeks. The Longhorns (23–14, 6–0 Big 12) are set to face both No. 2 Oklahoma and No. 16 Baylor in the waning weeks of the season.
The experience Texas has developed in facing so many ranked opponents could bode well for the team heading into the NCAA Tournament.
“It’s definitely very valuable for us because we’re going to be playing ranked teams for the rest of the season,” senior pitcher Paige von Sprecken said. “We have to continue being able to compete with them, and if we do, we will get the outcome.”
After suffering several losses to ranked teams early in the season, every game against a talented opponent from here on out offers a chance for the Longhorns to boost their resume.
The trick to the team racking up three straight series sweeps recently has been a three-part system: quality pitching, a rapidly developing offense and the ability to bounce back after a tough loss.
“Challenging them up and helping them reset the bar has been really, really good,” Texas head coach Connie Clark said. “I think, as a head coach, you have to have really, really good people around you.”
In addition to Texas’ resiliency, the offense has rallied around a top pitching staff. Over the last 12 games, the Longhorns have scored a total of 70 runs. In Texas’ first 12 games of the season, the team only scored 35 runs.
Incidentally, the offense began its turnaround when Texas defeated Texas State, 3-0, in Austin last month. Since then, the Longhorns have won 11 of 12 games, transforming from a mediocre team into a force to be reckoned with.
“It boosts our confidence a lot,” junior captain Bekah Alcozer said. “It’s nice to just come out and do what we know how to do and hit the way we know how to hit.”
The Longhorns boast two aces on their pitching staff — junior Brooke Bolinger and von Sprecken. One of them will most likely start on the mound come Wednesday night.
Possessing two aces and a solid No. 3 option in junior Erica Wright has turned the Longhorns’ starting rotation into a weapon. The strong pitching, coupled with the much-needed run support that has come as of late, has brought the Longhorns plenty of confidence.
“We’re hitting the ball really well, and everyone is seeing the ball really well,” sophomore Malory Schattle said. “We’re taking a lot of walks and less strikeouts. We feel good that we are going to get the win no matter what because we know our pitchers are going to go at their batters.”