For the first time since 2006, the University of Texas at Austin softball team is in Oklahoma City for the Women’s College World Series. It’s their fifth trip in team history, but the soft national championship has thus far eluded the Longhorns.
They’ll open against Arizona State tonight in a game that will air on ESPN2.
There was a stretch in the early 2000’s when the Longhorns – with dominant pitcher Cat Osterman in the circle – made the Women’s College World Series three times in four years. But the team hasn’t been back since Osterman moved on.
That bothered Longhorns coach Connie Clark, until this team won the Austin Super Regional last weekend.
“It has been far too long since Texas has been back here in ’06,” Clark said. “We just talked to our team about taking in every moment. I think that it’s just a time where it’s very much a challenge to get here to Oklahoma City because there is so much parity in our game now.”
An example of that parity is the Longhorns’ first game against Arizona State.
The Sun Devils defeated the Longhorns, 3-0, earlier this season. But in 12 total games against each other through the years, each team has won six.
This season, the fifth-seeded Sun Devils have 50 wins, only one more than the fourth-seeded Horns. Taylor Hoaglund of Flower Mound is a team captain.
“I’ve been asked the question: What’s different about this team? What is the key thing for you this year? I think it is a little bit of leadership, but it’s easy to be a leader of a team when they are willing to follow. I think that is really a big key component for us this year,” Hoaglund said.
If the Longhorns win, they’ll play again Friday night. A loss would put the Longhorns into Saturday’s elimination bracket.