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Junior infielder Stephanie Ceo will be an important cog for the Longhorns’ offense as they look to bounce back from an early exit in the 2014 postseason.
Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

Texas is no stranger to tough opponents. 

Last season, the Longhorns made the six-hour trip to Lafeyette, Louisiana, for the regional round of the NCAA tournament to face the Ragin’ Cajuns, who had a decisive home-field advantage. And with that advantage, Louisiana-Lafeyette ended Texas’ postseason run early. 

In order to score the home-field advantage for the first round of the postseason, the No. 25 Longhorns are going to have to pull out some big wins against quality opponents in their non-conference schedule.

For the second straight year, Texas will open up the season on the road, heading west to play in the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Arizona, next weekend. There, the Longhorns will square off against No. 2 Oregon and No. 16 Arizona State as well as Northwestern and Stanford, who each received votes in a preseason coach’s poll.

Later in February, Texas will face No. 12 Georgia, No. 7 UCLA, No. 17 Missouri and No. 22 Notre Dame at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in California.

The key for the Longhorns in these tough preseason tournaments will be putting up good performances against Women’s College World Series contenders. They will need to come away with a few impressive wins to show the committee they deserve to be one of the top-16 seeded teams to open at their home field.

The difficult schedule away from Austin also gives Texas a chance to boost its RPI, a calculation that many NCAA postseason selection committees use to determine seedings. Following Texas’ loss to Louisiana-Lafayette last year, head coach Connie Clark said the defeat proved the importance of RPI, especially to the younger players on the team.

“It motivates you to really understand the RPI and really understand what it’s about to work your tail off to be in the top 16,” Clark said.

Of course, winning these non-conference games is easier said than done. Oregon is coming off a near miss at the title a year ago, after falling one game short of the final. Georgia and UCLA each have something to prove this year after being upset on home turf in the Super Regionals last year.

But even picking up two or three wins against ranked opponents could make a difference in determining the host teams for the NCAA tournament.  And it will be important to pick up those wins in the non-conference schedule because once conference play begins, it will be hard to pick up those quality wins in the Big 12.

Junior outfielder Lindsey Stephens was named one of the softball team’s three captains and hopes to help the team bounce back after a relatively down year.

Photo Credit: Cristina Fernandez | Daily Texan Staff

Texas’ softball campaign came to an end last season at the hands of Louisiana-Lafayette in a 10-1 routing during Regionals.

This season, the Longhorns are looking to bounce back.

“Losing that game — it was heartbreaking,” junior outfielder Lindsey Stephens said. “It was actually hard for me to watch the [College] World Series and the Super Regionals after that because I wasn’t ready to finish the season.”

Because Texas lost four seniors last year and only has two seniors this year, leadership may be a challenge early on. However, Stephens said others on the team will not shy away from the challenge.

“The team as a whole—we all are great leaders at some point, and we also learn how to follow,” Stephens said. “So I think that’s what is really good about us.”

The three captains this year — outfielder Rachel Scott, second baseman Stephanie Ceo and Stephens — are juniors who went to the College World Series two years ago.

“We have some captains on the team, and I just think that we’re going to try to guide us all back to the World Series,” Stephens said.

Their experience and leadership will be key if the Longhorns want to return to Oklahoma City.

“I thought the team and the staff did a great job of being on the same page on who we would have wanted as captains,” head coach Connie Clark said. “Those are three young women that are ready to take on the reign.”

Clark said this year’s group is ready to get another shot at the Worlds Series. 

“I think this group is motivated to make to the top eight. We want to be at the Women’s College World Series, and that’s all we’re talking about,” Clark said. “It’s more realistic that we can talk about that this year.”

The players agree that this team feels more motivated.

“Our goal every year is to get back to the World Series and win the World Series,” Ceo said. “So, no matter what, it’s always going to be that motivation. We came up short in Regionals last year, and it’s just an extra push to get even further this year.”

After helping Denmark advance to the Davis Cup, two-time All-American senior Søren Hess-Olesen has returned to Texas and will head to Napa Valley, California, to compete in the Napa Valley Tennis Classic.

Fellow seniors Lloyd Glasspool and Jacoby Lewis and junior Nick Naumann will join the reigning Big 12 Player of the Year in California while other Longhorns will head to Lafayette, Louisiana, to compete in the Cajun Tennis Classic.

Hess-Olesen, Glasspool and Naumann were listed in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association preseason rankings at No. 5, No. 31 and No. 113.

The Napa Valley Tennis Classic features American top junior tennis players competing against some of the country’s top collegiate players. Following three rounds of pool play, the pool winners will compete in a single-elimination, 10-point tiebreak tournament. The winner of the tournament will receive a wildcard entry into a USTA Pro Circuit event that is yet to be determined.

Representing eighth-ranked Texas in Louisiana are senior Adrien Berkowicz, sophomore George Goldhoff, junior Michael Riechmann, who recently transferred from
Brown University, and freshman John Mee.

Goldhoff ranked No. 56 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association preseason rankings, and Berkowicz made his debut as No. 106 in the rankings. 

Eight teams will be represented at the Cajun Tennis Classic, including fellow Big 12 teams Oklahoma State University and Texas Christian University, as well as ninth-ranked Georgia. 

Play begins Thursday at 9 a.m. and runs through Sunday.

Freshman outfielder Stephanie Wong contributed to an 11-run sixth inning Wednesday night in San Marcos, scoring the second run of the inning. Texas won the game 15-6.



Photo Credit: Helen Fernandez | Daily Texan Staff

LAFAYETTE, La. – Despite bringing in momentum from a last-inning comeback win, the Longhorns struggled both at the plate and in the field against the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Freshman pitcher Tiarra Davis was rocked right from the start giving up three runs in two-and-a-third innings pitched and the Texas offense couldn’t figure out Louisiana junior ace Christina Hamilton as the Ragin’ Cajuns won 10-1, ending the Longhorns’ 2014 season.

“It’s always bitter sweet, but I’m proud of this team from start to finish,” head coach Connie Clark said.

Things got off to a rough start for Davis right from the start, after struggling in the seventh inning against Louisiana on Saturday afternoon and giving up the win. Davis allowed a double and hit a batter with one out in the first, before getting out of the jam on a fly out double play.

She wouldn’t be so lucky in the following inning. After striking out the first batter to start the inning, Davis allowed the next three batters to reach base. Following a strikeout, Cajun pinch hitter Gabby Felps ripped a two-run single off of sophomore second baseman Stephanie Ceo’s glove to give ULL the lead.

Davis would only last two batters into the third and was replaced by junior Gabby Smith, who gave up a two-run home run on the first pitch she threw.

Clark said that they were planning on using Davis as much as possible to try to force a second game.

“She’s been our ace,” Clark said. “They were getting good looks at her and we felt like a change with Gabby was a good opportunity for us.”

The Longhorn offense, on the other hand, struggled to get any sort of rhythm going against Hamilton.

Texas had a golden opportunity in the first inning, getting runners to first and second with one out, but a deep fly out and a ground out ended the chance. Then in fourth, after Smith belted a solo home run, the Longhorns loaded the bases, but senior centerfielder Brejae Washington popped out to end the inning.

Despite the missed opportunities, Washington said it wasn’t something that got them down.

“We weren’t trying to press,” Washington said. “We did get runners on at times and couldn’t find a way to push them over.

Texas ends its season short of the Super Regional for the first time since 2011 and finished the year with a record of 35-23. The senior class leaves the Forty Acres as the winningest class in Texas history with 179 in the past four seasons.

Instead of focusing on the way it ended, Washington, who leaves Texas as the program’s single-season stolen base and all-time hits record holder, said she’s going to remember the past four years, including the comeback win Saturday night.

“All four of us seniors, we’ve struggled and fought together and we’ve won big games and lost big games,” Washington said. “I think we can look back and say ‘Hey, we had a very successful career here.’ I wish the team nothing but the best and hope we left a good mark here and created a way for them to follow.”

Even though the loss at the end was tough for the Longhorns, Clark said there are some things they can take away from this experience, especially with a team that will lose only four seniors and return its entire pitching staff.

“It was a good experience for all of them,” Clark said. “It motivates you to really understand the RPI and really understand what it’s about to work your tail off to be in the top 16.”

LAFAYETTE, Louisiana – Down 3-1 to Mississippi State with two outs in the top of the seventh in an elimination game, the Longhorns weren’t quite ready to go home.

“We weren’t ready for this to end yet,” senior shortstop Taylor Thom said.

Sophomore second baseman Stephanie Ceo blooped in a single, followed by a single by senior Brejae Washington, bringing sophomore right fielder Lindsey Stephens to the plate. Up 3-1 in the count, Stephens, who entered the tournament in an 0-for-15 slump, blasted a home run to give Texas a lead they would hold on to in a 4-3 win.

“I wasn’t ready for the 2014 season to end,” Stephens said. “I wasn’t ready for anything to stop yet.”

Through the first six innings of the game, Mississippi State’s senior pitcher Alison Owens kept the Longhorn offense at bay, allowing three hits and only one run. The Bulldogs offense, meanwhile, took advantage of a Texas error in the first, a home run in the fourth and a double in the sixth to build the 3-1 lead going into the final inning.

Mississippi State appeared to be on its way to a showdown with UL-Lafayette on Sunday after the first two Texas hitters were sent down to start the seventh. But after Ceo’s bloop single fell in-between the second baseman and right fielder, an emotional exchange between Washington and Thom and Washington’s single up the middle, things were looking much better for the Longhorns.

That’s when Stephens stepped in, knowing the entire inning that she would get the chance to bat. Stephens turned on the fifth pitch of the at bat and hit a three-run shot that turned around the game and the season for Texas.

“We’re very capable and we can all hit,” Stephens said. “The game’s not over until the umpire says, ‘Ballgame,’ when that third out is made.”

Texas was put in the position to have to win the game against Mississippi State after a tough 2-1 loss to ULL earlier in the day.

The Longhorns entered the bottom of the seventh up 2-1 on the Ragin’ Cajuns thanks in part to a solo home run by Thom in the fourth inning. But freshman pitcher Tiarra Davis allowed the first four batters to reach base, allowing Louisiana to tie the game and two batters later walked in the winning run with the bases loaded.

Despite the tough loss, Stephens said they regrouped after the game, put on new jerseys and went out to keep playing in the postseason.

“It was like a new day and a new game and we just went after it,” Stephens said.

With the win, the Longhorns advanced to play the Ragin’ Cajuns again on Sunday at noon. Texas will have to win two games to advance to the Super Regionals for the third-straight season, while Louisiana would only need to win one of a possible two games Sunday to advance.

Even though the loss Saturday afternoon was difficult, Thom said they can take some momentum from that game and a lot of momentum from the seventh inning comeback to their advantage.

“We’ve already beat [Louisiana] twice this season,” Thom said. “We have all the confidence in the world that we can beat them.”

LAFAYETTE, La. - The first round of the NCAA tournament will be a case of déjà vu for the Longhorns this weekend.

In the Lafayette Regional, Texas could square off against Louisiana-Lafayette and Texas Southern, two teams that the Longhorns faced and beat twice earlier this season.

But first things first, Texas will have to get by a Mississippi State team on Friday that went 38-19 in the regular season.

The Bulldogs come into the tournament having won three of their past four series in the SEC, including a 2-1 series win over Alabama; however, they fell to Kentucky in the opening round of the SEC tournament a week ago.

Freshman infielder Caroline Seitz led Mississippi State at the plate with a .350 batting average, 63 hits, 19 doubles and 36 RBIs. Senior catcher Sam Lenahan added 10 home runs and 42 RBIs for the Bulldogs, who are in the NCAA tournament for the third straight season.

Senior Alison Owen and freshman Alex Silkwood split time in the circle for Mississippi State. In 144 innings pitches, Owen allowed 111 hits, struck out 152 batters and compiled an ERA of 2.28, while Silkwood pitched 165.2 innings, giving up 130 hits, striking out 214 batters and ended the season with an ERA 3.00.

After the opening game against the Bulldogs Friday, Texas will either face ULL or Texas Southern.

The Longhorns opened up the season with a tournament in Lafayette, facing the Ragin’ Cajuns twice in two days. In the first game, ULL opened up with five runs in the first inning, but Texas came back with three runs in each of the last three innings, including two home runs, to take a 10-7 win.

The next day, the Ragin’ Cajuns again took an early 2-0 lead in the first, but a five-run fifth inning, capped off by a three-run home run from sophomore right fielder Lindsey Stephens, helped the Longhorns to a 7-3 win.

Texas had its way with Texas Southern in the Texas Invitational back on March 1 and 2. The Longhorns run-ruled the Lady Tigers in both games and combined for 23 hits in both games and outscored them 17-1.

But a lot has changed in the couple of months since the teams have played, especially for ULL and Texas. The Ragin’ Cajuns have won 35 of their last 38 games, including two wins each against Oklahoma and Baylor. They have three hitters with 30 or more RBIs this season and junior ace Christina Hamilton has allowed only 131 hits and struck out 166 batters, ending the year with an ERA of 1.55.

Texas, on the other hand, has found its ace in freshman Tiarra Davis, who has struck out 162 batters and has an ERA of 2.35. Despite a recent slump, Stephens still leads the team with 15 home runs and 62 RBIs.

With all of the challenges the Longhorns have faced this season, head coach Connie Clark said that their best is still ahead of them in the Lafayette Regional.

“We’ve grown a lot as a team this year,” Clark said. “The young ones have really learned a lot. This group has learned how to play mentally tough and play for each other. I think everything is hitting at the right time.”

Junior Gabby Smith starred for Texas against LSU on Thursday, pitching seven strong innings.

Photo Credit: Shweta Gulati | Daily Texan Staff

After a long offseason of facing the same batters and the same pitchers, the first tournament of the season is an exciting moment for teams.

Playing five games over the course of three or four days allows coaches to see who their starters will be conference play starts, and young players are able to get used to the college game.

“Going into the first tournament is always exciting,” junior pitcher Gabby Smith said. “It’s preseason and it’s just so much fun.”

The Longhorns will play their first tournament of the year away from home for the first time since 2007, electing to compete in the Louisiana Classic in Lafayette, La. Texas will face North Carolina, Louisiana-Lafayette, Purdue and Northern Iowa in the three-day tournament.

While Texas comes in as the highest-ranked team in the tournament — ranked No. 10 by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association — they’ll face stiff competition, particularly from Louisiana-Lafayette.

The Ragin’ Cajuns are coming off of a run to the Super Regional where they fell to Michigan. This season, they are ranked No. 13 in the preseason ranking and pitcher Jordan Wallace is looking to continue her success from a year ago when she was 32-9 with 382 strikeouts.

The Longhorns swept all three games the two teams played last year, but head coach Connie Clark knows it will be different this time around playing in Lafayette.

“They usually draw pretty well and they really enjoy their softball down there,” Clark said.

Texas will face North Carolina in its first game of the tournament. The Tar Heels finished last season 40-21 and made it into the NCAA tournament. They return 10 of their key players, including pitcher Lori Spingola, who went 30-15 last year with a 2.50 ERA and 304 strikeouts.

Clark said starting the season with both of those teams will be a needed challenge for the Longhorns.

“I think that’s exactly what we need to get these young players into the fire as quickly as we can,” Clark said.

The Longhorns are coming off of a 6-1 win over LSU in their opening game of the season. Senior shortstop Taylor Thom boosted the Texas offense with a three-run home run in the fifth to put the game out of hand. Junior pitcher Gabby Smith allowed only one unearned run and struck out two in the complete game.

The Louisiana Classic is part of a tough non-conference schedule for Texas, who will also play Arizona State, Michigan and Washington — all of which are ranked in the top 10 going into the season. With seven freshmen joining the Longhorns for 2014, senior shortstop Taylor Thom said the team’s focus for the tournament and the rest of the non-conference schedule will be consistency.

“There are a lot of new faces out there and not a lot of experience, so we’re just going to have to continue to work through the ups and downs,” Thom said.

But now that the Longhorns are playing someone other than themselves, Smith said they’re ready to go out and have fun.

“I know we’re all really anxious to have a different opponent,” Smith said. “It’s going to be good to see different batters.”

1. Oklahoma State (2-0, last week: 1)

Despite plenty of off-the-field distractions, the Cowboys continue to roll. Another blowout victory has the Pokes opening their Big 12 schedule in Morgantown as the conference favorites. With the trip to Austin in November looking like an easy win at this point, Oklahoma State’s toughest road test will likely come in Lubbock against the Red Raiders.

2. Baylor (2-0, last week: 2)

After a week off, the Bears are primed for one last offensive explosion against Louisiana-Monroe before they get into their conference schedule. With their first four Big 12 games coming against the bottom four teams on this list, expect Baylor to continue to light up the scoreboard.

3. Oklahoma (3-0, last week: 3)

It looks like the Sooners have found their quarterback, even if it took an unfortunate injury to do so. Junior Blake Bell, who started in place of the injured Trevor Knight on Saturday, threw for 413 yards and 4 touchdowns in a win over Tulsa. With a defense that has given up an average of just nine points per game and a solid running attack, Oklahoma appears to be hitting it’s stride.

4. Texas Tech (3-0, last week: 6)

It wasn’t pretty, but the Red Raiders took care of business against TCU in Lubbock on Saturday. While some poor officiating down the stretch certainly helped, Texas Tech’s defense looked strong throughout the game. With four very winnable games ahead of them, don’t be surprised if the Red Raiders head to Norman at 7-0.

5. TCU (1-2, last week: 4)

While TCU’s rough start has been largely overshadowed by the disaster taking place in Austin, the Horned Frogs have been equally disappointing. It appears as though life without quarterback Casey Pachall is proving to be as challenging as expected and now the defense is hurting too. This bye week comes at a good time as TCU looks to right the ship while it still can.

6. Texas (1-2, last week: 5)

After three years of mediocre Longhorns football, this was supposed to be Texas’ year. But just three weeks into the season the program is in shambles. The loss to Ole Miss was the second blowout in as many weeks and Mack Brown’s seat is on fire at this point. Brown’s only saving grace at this point would be a Big 12 championship. That journey starts Saturday against Kansas State.

7. West Virginia (2-1, last week: 7)

Georgia State might not be the toughest of competition, but freshman quarterback Ford Childress looked good on Saturday and appears to have cemented himself as the starter for the Mountaineers. We’ll see how good West Virginia really is over the next few weeks as they take on Maryland, OSU and Baylor.

8. Kansas State (2-1, last week: 8)

Since losing their season opener to an FCS opponent, the Wildcats have looked strong in back-to-back victories. That being said, their schedule has been soft to date. A win in Austin this weekend, which isn’t far fetched given their recent dominance over the Longhorns, would silence the doubters.

9.  Kansas (1-1, last week: 9)

The loss to Rice gave us an idea of what to expect from the Jayhawks this year. The defense didn’t look too bad, but the offense was abysmal. If Charlie Weis’ bunch can’t find a way to put up points, it’s going to be a long year in Lawrence.

10. Iowa State (0-2, last week: 10)

The Cyclones remain winless, but did put up a good fight in their annual matchup with Iowa. Nonetheless, the defense looks weak and the offense hasn’t been very impressive either. That combination won’t add up to much in the win column.

Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk has been a big reason why the Bears have gotten off to such an electrifying start this season, running for 261 yards and five touchdowns in two games for the nation's most productive offense this year. 

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

The train is coming off the tracks for the Longhorns after being blown out for the second consecutive week. Ole Miss had its way with Texas in the second half, outscoring the Longhorns, 27-0, in the second half. Kansas State isn’t that good, but expect backup quarterback Daniel Sams to get some extra snaps. He’s much more mobile than starter Jake Waters and Texas still hasn’t figured out the zone read offense. The Longhorns run defense is ranked an embarrassing 121st out of 123 FBS teams. Texas has to win at some point, but I’m not seeing any reason for the tide to turn now. Daje Johnson is still out, David Ash is still questionable, and the defense hasn’t shown any sign of improvement so far under new defensive coordinator Greg Robinson. I’ll take Kansas State to get the victory. Even if the Longhorns win, I don’t see them covering the 4.5
point spread.

Kansas State (+4.5) at Texas

Lock of the Week

Louisiana-Monroe at Baylor (-28)

Baylor takes care of lesser opponents at home. The Bears trounced Wofford 69-3 in Week 1 and in Week 2 blasted a Buffalo team that put up a fight against Ohio State, 70-13. Louisiana-Monroe is better than those teams, but not by much. Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty leads the nation in passer rating and running back Lache Seastrunk is a big-play threat every time he touches the ball. The Bears offense should be able to score enough points to cover the spread.


Upset Alert

West Virginia (+6.5) at Maryland

This pick is contingent on which Mountaineers team shows up Saturday. Will it be the one that battled tooth-and-nail with Oklahoma or the one that narrowly avoided an upset against FCS William & Mary? I’m betting on the West Virginia team that played Oklahoma to show up. Freshman quarterback Ford Childress got his first start last week, replacing the struggling Paul Millard, and threw for 359 yards and three touchdowns. Maryland has played nobody this year. Their three wins have come against a winless Florida International team that fell to a FCS team in Bethune-Cookman, 34-14; Old Dominion (another FCS team); and a winless Connecticut team that lost to an FCS squad as well (Towson). The jump in competition could catch the Terrapins off-guard, making them prime for an upset.


Darren’s record: 7-2 (.778)

“The Live Music Capital of the World” is a title that has belonged to Austin for many years, and a recent study has proven the city is a good start-up location for aspiring musicians in several genres.

Graduate student researchers at the University of Toronto recently conducted a study in which they used Myspace as a way to analyze which genres of music were more popular in certain parts of the country. Austin was included in the study, along with other major U.S. cities, such as Houston, Atlanta, Ga., Memphis, Tenn. and New Orleans, La.

The data indicated that the trending genres in the Austin music scene were folk, country pop and most significantly, rock ‘n’ roll.

In order to determine which genre was popular in a certain city, the researchers from Toronto used five levels of comparison with the help of an algorithm used in another study — which was completed by researchers at The University of Chicago — to analyze music trends. 

“Overall we found that rock ‘n’ roll was the most popular genre across all metros followed by urban contemporary,” said University of Toronto graduate research assistant Garrett T. Morgan. “With the remaining genres composing the remaining share of the market.”

The study showed that many regional stereotypes remained true, Morgan said. The Northwest preferred rock, while southern cities preferred country pop. Large cities like New York and Los Angeles had diverse tastes in music.

“Overall the data shows that Austin’s music scene is centered on folk, rock ’n’ roll, and country pop,” Morgan said. “Reinforcing the city’s reputation as a destination for aspiring musicians keen on breaking into the diverse country music scene.”

However, certain locals feel the study does not accurately reflect the music scene in Austin.

“The categorization misses blues and indie, which are obviously two popular genres in Austin,” said Joah Spearman, vice chair of the Austin Music Commission. “Austin isn’t really limited by genre. Compared to most markets outside of maybe New York or LA, [Austin] has shown itself to have a great ear for talent regardless of genre.”