The bronze medal is a compelling idea: just good enough to place, but not good enough to be at the top. That has been the epitome of the Longhorns’ softball season, as the team has played top-teams incredibly close all season but failed to notch any signature wins.
The team continued this trend as they defeated Texas Tech in the third-place game of the Big 12 tournament by a score of 9-2 on Sunday.
Picking up an additional two wins, Texas’ win against Tech and the tournament opener against Iowa State last Friday, is critical for the team’s postseason chances, with the Tech game particularly being a strong rebound after a crushing 10-1 loss to the Sooners of Oklahoma.
“I thought that we played really great,” senior captain Randel Leahy. “We came out with our backs against the wall today. We just really needed that win.”
The team was strong on every front, as the offense and pitching staff both put on a clinic before NCAA play.
On offense, the team was led by freshman MK Tedder and sophomore Kaitlyn Washington, who both had two hits and two RBI apiece. Sophomore Taylor Ellsworth and Leahy chipped in another two RBI apiece while combining for five hits.
‘Freshman of the Year’ candidate Janae Jefferson scored another one for the team, continuing to build on her solid opening campaign for the Longhorns.
“I think the team came out and just relaxed,” Leahy said. “We just played like we know how to play.”
In the circle, senior ace Paige von Sprecken finished her strong season with a victory. She finished her Big 12 Tournament career with a dominant outing, allowing only two runs while scattering five hits across seven innings.
The pitching staff for the team has been electric this season, as both von Sprecken and junior ace Brooke Bolinger locked down opposing teams.
“We’re really excited,” Leahy said. “I think that the postseason will really be our time to shine. I think we’ve improved a lot of things on defense, offense, and in the circle. So I’m really excited to see what we can do.”
After a sluggish start to the season, the team improved and finished the season with a 32-24 record. That record should be good enough to merit a bid into the postseason.
Texas is heading west for the Seattle regional to take on Big 10 champion Minnesota (39-15) this Friday. The news was announced at the NCAA selection show on Sunday night.
Last year, the team lost to Texas A&M in the Regional Final. The team hopes to improve upon last year’s performance and advance to the Women’s College World Series this season.