Texas coach Connie Clark, watching her team in a game earlier this year, said the last press conference of the season is always the toughest -- after the team has been eliminated. Stephen Spillman / For AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Softball

Diamond Dust: Texas to play four WCWS qualifiers in 2018

Posted November 16th, 2017

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The last time I left you, the Texas softball team was recovering from a disappointing 2017 season that the Longhorns want to forget.

It’s time to stir up the dust and take a look at the Longhorns competitive 2018 schedule that features 25 teams that made the 2017 NCAA tournament.

Texas is coming off a 33-26 season, the sixth-worst in the program’s 21-year history, and it appears head coach Connie Clark, who enters her 22nd season with the Longhorns, are not backing down, at least early on.

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Texas will open its season on Feb. 9 against Incarnate Word University as part of the Texas Classic, which also features Colorado State and Wisconsin. The Badgers (35-17) were eliminated in the Eugene Regional by host Oregon in last year’s NCAA Tournament. Wisconsin will likely be Texas’ toughest opponent in the three-day tournament.

The following week the Longhorns head to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for the Puerto Vallarta College Classic, which also features Rutgers, Ole Miss, Houston and Oregon, which is one of four teams that reached last year’s Women’s College World Series on Texas’ schedule.

Another one of those teams – Washington – will visit Austin on Feb. 21 for a single game.

The Texas Invitational on Feb. 23-25 promises to be ultra competitive with tournament qualifiers Michigan and Ohio State, the Big 10 champion, in the field along with Wichita State and Virginia Tech.

A three-game home series with national powerhouse Arizona, which was eliminated by Baylor in last year’s Tuscon Super Regional, is scheduled for March 2-4 with road games against Texas-San Antonio (March 7), South Carolina (March 13) and Coastal Carolina (March 15) following before the Longhorns play in the College of Charleston Tournament, which has Eastern Illinois, Jacksonville State, host College of Charleston and Georgetown in the field.

Randi Rupp, right, and assistant coach Cat Osterman, a former Texas pitcher, walk to celebrate with the Bobcats after Texas State defeated Texas 2-1 on April 5, 2017 at Bobcat Stadium in San Marcos. CREDIT: Texas State athletics

The Longhorns will tangle with Texas State and All-American pitcher Randi Rupp on March 21 at McCombs Field in the first of two games against the Bobcats, which was 3-1 against Texas last season. Rupp has never lost to Texas in her three years at Texas State. The second game of the two-game slate is scheduled for April 11 in San Marcos.

Other non-conference opponents include: Stephen F. Austin, Samford and Texas Southern.

The Big 12 portion of the schedule begins March 23 with a home three-game series against Kansas. Texas travels to Iowa State, which swept Texas for the first time ever last season, for a three-game series beginning March 29.

Texas Tech comes to Austin April 13-15 while Oklahoma State will come to McCombs Field for a three-game series April 20-122.

Texas will play defending national champion Oklahoma in a three-game series in Norman, Okla. on April 27-29.  Baylor, which was a WCWS qualifier last season, will travel to McCombs Field on April 17 with the final two games of the series played in Waco on May 5-6.

You can see the full schedule here.

Diamond Dust will return in January with a preview of the Longhorns season. Until then, swing for the fences.

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