AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Longhorns softball went to Seattle and won, then went to Fayetteville and won, but how will they fare in Oklahoma City on the game’s biggest stage?
Texas is one of three unseeded teams to make it to the Women’s College World Series, which begins Thursday, and the Longhorns are in a position to make a run at a championship.
On their way to the WCWS, the Longhorns needed all three games to take out No. 13 Washington in the regional final, and then three more to drop No. 4 Arkansas. Even though they finished the regular season No. 14 in the RPI, suggesting they should probably be considered one of the top 16 teams in the country, the selection committee passed on the Longhorns hosting and sent them on the road the entire postseason. They didn’t let the decision deter them from their goal, however.
“We’re still that Cinderella story,” senior second baseman Janae Jefferson said. “It was our ultimate goal to get here, but we’re not done yet.”
“I’ve been on committees before, and it’s difficult, it’s hard to please everybody,” Texas head coach Mike White said after he found out his team wouldn’t host a regional. “We’re one of those teams that may have deserved it, but obviously it is what it is.”
Texas is one of two teams to beat No. 1 Oklahoma this season, the other team being the Sooners’ rivals from Stillwater, the Oklahoma State Cowgirls, and if the squad can get past No. 5 UCLA to start the tournament, the odds are they’ll get another crack at the Sooners in the next round.
“We’ve beaten the No. 1 team in the country before,” White said, “it’s just a matter of that’s the level we need to play at. We’re starting to see that when we play those error-free games.”
Comparing the squads
Playing perfect defense is a must if the Longhorns want to beat the Bruins, but unfortunately, the defense hasn’t been the team’s strong suit.
Texas is tied for 153rd in the country with a .959 fielding percentage and 71 errors in 63 games. However, as of late, the Longhorns have been better defensively, committing just three errors in seven postseason games. UCLA on the other hand is tied for 25th in the country with a .973 fielding percentage
While Texas has been solid at the plate, scoring 5.8 runs per game this season, UCLA has been better. The Bruins score 6.4 runs per game and are better in just about every other offensive category.
|Home runs per game||0.95||1.02|
Where the Longhorns are markedly better than the Bruins are on the basepaths stealing bags. Texas has 92 swipes this season and has been caught just 10 times. UCLA has 61 stolen bases and has been caught 18 times.
Where UCLA really shines is in the circle. The Bruins’ pitching staff is second in the country in earned run average with a minuscule 1.40, and they lead the country in strikeout-to-walk ratio at 6.17. In 359 2/3 innings pitched, UCLA has walked just 75 batters.
|Earned run average||3.07||1.40|
How to watch the Longhorns at the WCWS
Thursday’s game starts at 11 a.m. CDT and will be televised on ESPN with the radio broadcast on 105.3 FM The Bat.
If the Longhorns beat the Bruins, they’ll get Friday off and play at 2 p.m. Saturday on ABC. A loss will send them to the elimination bracket and then they’ll play at 7 p.m. Friday on ESPN2.
The championship series is scheduled for June 8-10.