Texas athletic trainer Kim Detwiler speaks to pitcher Erica Wright, far right, during the second day of practice for the 2017 season at McCombs Field Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017. (Stephen Spillman / for AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

BEVO BEAT Softball

Diamond Dust: How does Texas softball measure up to other teams in the state?

Posted March 8th, 2017

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Texas went 0 for 3 against sixth-ranked Arizona in Tuscon last weekend, bring its record against ranked opponents to a dismal 2-7 this season.

But UT’s struggles against ranked teams goes way beyond this season. In fact, Texas’ 4-2 win over No. 15 Tennessee two weeks ago at the Mary Nutter Classic was its first against a top-15 team in two years. There also was the 5-2 win over then-No. 12 UCLA on Feb. 19. Prior to the win over the Volunteers, UT had lost eight in a row against top-15 teams.

Texas (12-9) doesn’t get much time to rest after its 7-2 win over UTSA on Wednesday. The Longhorns play 10th-ranked UCLA in Los Angeles on Sunday, kicking off a six-game California road trip that includes games with Loyola Marymount (6-10) and Long Beach State (6-10-1). The road trip concludes with a three-game series at Cal State Fullerton (9-11), Connie Clark’s alma mater which picked up a notable win over No. 15 Baylor last weekend.

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After Texas returns home, there’s a home game with McNeese State before Big 12 play begins March 24 at Oklahoma State. The Longhorns will likely face only two more ranked teams once conference play begins — Oklahoma and Baylor. The Longhorns are the only other Big 12 team that’s receiving votes in the USA Today/NFCA coaches poll.

Let’s play in some dirt.

Texas A&M pitcher Samantha Show is part of an Aggie team that is 19-1. Show, herself, shutout No. 1 Florida State in a 2-0 victory for A&M. Photo courtesy of Texas A&M athletics

AROUND THE HORN: Texas’ struggles against the nation’s elite are well documented, but it got me thinking: How do the Longhorns measure up with the state’s other top Division I programs? Going back over the past three years — beginning with this year’s group of seniors’ freshman seasons — here are UT’s results vs. Baylor, Texas A&M, Texas State and Houston:

SchoolConferenceRecord (WPCT)NCAA bidsWCWS berthsNotes
BaylorBig 12135-47 (.742)31Only Texas school to earn berth to Women's College World Series (2014) and has reached the past two regional finals.
Texas A&MSEC115-63 (.646)30The Aggies have reached three straight regional finals., beating Texas last year in Lafayette, La.
TexasBig 12111-56 (.665) 30Texas has been eliminated in the regional semifinals in each year since reaching the WCWS in 2013.
Texas StateSun Belt98-73 (.573) 10The Bobcats are one of the up-and-coming programs in the last three years, reaching the regional semifinals in 2016.
HoustonAmerican Athletic 88-79 (.527) 10The Cougars had their only losing season in the last five years in 2016, but are still one of the winningest programs in the state.

Lamar and Texas Tech are the only other teams from Texas to post a record above .500 the past three years. The Cardinals are in their fifth year of softball and posted their first winning record (35-22)  in 2016. Sam Houston State is a traditionally strong program, but the Bearkats haven’t posted a winning record since 2013 and last reached the NCAA tournament in 2007. Only three teams (A&M, Texas and Baylor) have posted winning records in each of the past five seasons.

Texas’ Mickenzi Krpec continues to be on a roll at the plate and is second in the Big 12 in slugging percentage and is tied for the team-lead with six doubles. (Stephen Spillman / for AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Texas, which has lost six straight games, hasn’t had much to cheer about. But there are a few silver linings.

Three up

  1. Mickenzi Krpec continues to roll: There isn’t a player hotter at the plate. Krpec’s .651 slugging percentage is second in the Big 12, and she’s UT’s second leading hitter with a .372 batting average, six doubles, two home runs and 11 RBIs.
  2. The bullpen: Sophomore Brooke Bolinger boasts a 0.68 earned run average in five relief appearances; sophomore Erica Wright has a 1.10 ERA in four. The duo has only allowed six runs when coming out of the bullpen.
  3. Milestones for Tiarra Davis: The senior became the fourth pitcher in the program’s 21-year history to reach 500 innings. She needs one victory to become the sixth UT pitcher to win 50 career games.

Three down

  1. Ranked opponents are kryptonite: Since 2014, the Longhorns are 17-34 against ranked opponents and 1-13 against teams in the top 10. There’s really nothing left to say about that.
  2. Slow starts: Texas is 2-7 when its opponent scores first, but 10-2 when it score first. While unrelated, Texas has 27 come-from-behind victories since the 2015 season. The Longhorns have had two walk-off wins this season against Louisiana Tech and Notre Dame.
  3. Road woes: The softball team must be taking its cues from men’s basketball. The Longhorns are 0-3 in true road games and 4-5 in neutral-site games played away from McCombs Field. On the contrary, Texas is 8-4 at home with losses to Texas State, Minnesota twice and South Carolina.
Erica Wright and the Longhorns begin a six-game California road trip Sunday against No. 10 UCLA.. (Stephen Spillman / for AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

ON DECK: The Longhorns are about to start a six-game road trip in California. Texas plays UCLA on Sunday and then Loyola Marymount on Tuesday. Texas plays at Long Beach next Wednesday before closing the trip with three games against Cal State Fullerton.

Texas’ upcoming schedule (All games will be on 105.3):

Sunday —  at No. 10 UCLA, 6 p.m.

Tuesday — at Loyola Marymount, 4.

Wednesday — at Long Beach State, 4.

March 17 — at Cal State Fullerton, 7.

March 18 — at Cal State Fullerton (DH), 4/6.

BIG 12 POWER POLL: Baylor stays in the the top spot after picking up wins over UCLA, Arizona State and Washington last weekend in the Judi Garman Classic in Calif. Oklahoma stays at No. 2 while Oklahoma State leapfrogs Texas to take the No. 3 spot.

RANKTEAMRECORDLAST WEEKTHIS WEEKNOTE
1Baylor18-41at Louisiana Lafayette, March 9The Bears past a lot of tests with wins over No. 21 Arizona State, No. 8 Washington and No. 10 UCLA last weekend.
2Oklahoma15-42at Oklahoma Tournament, March 10-12. The Sooners have won six straight after losing to Notre Dame on Feb. 25.
3Oklahoma State13-94at Ole Miss Classic, March 10-12. Cowvirls posted a 4-1 record at home Mizuno Classic and beat Evansville 21-2 on Tuesday.
4Texas11-93at No. 10 UCLA, March 12. Longhorns had a rough week last week, losing to Texas State and three game against Arizona.
5tKansas12-95at Jayhawk Invitational, March 10-12Kansas posted a 2-4 record last week at teh Citrus Classic in Orlando, losing two in extra innings.
5tTexas Tech12-96at Tulsa Invitational, March 10-12Red Raiders went 4-2 in their last six games with losses to Wichita State and North Texas.
7Iowa State8-117at UC-Davis Tournament, March 10-12Cyclones only picked up one win at the St. George Red Desert Classic in Utah, beating Utah State 2-1.

That’s all the dust for this week. Until next week, swing for the fences.

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