AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas softball team got hot at the exact right time last season and rode it all the way to the Women’s College World Series championship series, so what will the club do for an encore this season?
As far as Big 12 Conference coaches are concerned, the Longhorns are tabbed to be near the top of the league at No. 3 in the preseason poll released Wednesday.
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The Longhorns earned 28 poll points behind reigning national champions Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. The Sooners received six out of seven first-place votes in the poll with the Cowgirls getting the remaining one. Baylor, Iowa State, Texas Tech and Kansas rounded out the poll.
The Longhorns get the season started Feb. 10 in Clearwater, Florida with five games in the NFCA Division I Leadoff Classic. They’ll play two doubleheaders and a single game over three days, taking on Missouri and Northwestern in the first double-dip, then Tennessee and Illinois in the other on Feb. 11. The Longhorns finish the tournament against Kentucky on Feb. 12 before their home opener Feb. 15 against Lamar.
Texas finished its fall schedule 3-1 with wins over McLennan Community College, St. Mary’s and Odessa College. The Longhorns dropped a fall game to Texas State 8-7.
Mia Scott hit .377 last season and should anchor the infield for the Longhorns this season. Alyssa Popelka hit. .348 and Courtney Day hit .300 last year as other top returning hitters. Estelle Czech pitched 103.2 innings last year, compiling a 13-2 record in 16 starts with 83 strikeouts and a 3.24 ERA.