Texas softball coach Connie Clark and the Longhorns have rescheduled a game against Oklahoma State that was scheduled for Saturday. (Stephen Spillman for American-Statesman)

BEVO BEAT Softball

Diamond Dust: Texas starts 0-3 in Big 12 softball for the second straight year

Posted March 31st, 2017

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The Texas softball team was swept in a Big 12 series by Oklahoma State in Stillwater last weekend, the second straight year that the Longhorns have opened conference play 0-3.

That’s only happened three times in the program’s 21-year history — 2004, 2016 and 2017. Back in 2004, Texas started out 0-7.

The Cowgirls (22-11, 3-0) were picked to finish fourth behind the Longhorns and Baylor, respectively, in the preseason coaches’ poll. However, with the sweep of Texas (17-14, 0-3), the Cowgirls are now winners of eight of their last 10 games, one of the hottest teams in the conference.

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Looking back at the last 10 years, Texas has only been swept seven times in regular-season Big 12 series. In 2009, both Baylor and Nebraska did so in the regular season.

In case  you are wondering, Texas has swept 12 conference series and has won of 22 of 32 since 2012. The Longhorns have never won a series against Oklahoma and has only lost a series to Texas Tech (2015), Oklahoma State (2013 and 2017) and Missouri (2012).

Let’s play in some dirt.

Texas freshman Taylor Ellsworth gets a hit in a recent game. The Georgetown native is currently the team’s leading hitter with a .535 batting average and a .744 slugging percentage. CREDIT: Texas athletics

Three, er, one up

  1. Taylor Ellsworth: The freshman from Georgetown continued her monstrous season at the plate, tying a UT single-game record by going 5 for 5 in Sunday’s 10-9 loss to Oklahoma State. The record was originally set by All-American Taylor Thom on April 23, 2011. Ellsworth is Texas’ leading hitter — and it’s not even close —  with a .535 average. Texas’ second leading hitter is Tiarra Davis, who’s hitting .355. Ellsworth also leads the team with a .744 slugging percentage.

That’s the only up that came out of last week.

Three down

  1. There’s no killer instinct: Texas has lost seven games by one run, and in four of those the Longhorns held a lead going into their opponent’s final at-bat. Oklahoma State overcame a five-run hole in the bottom of the seventh inning on Sunday to send the game into extra innings. The Cowgirls again trailed in their final at-bat and a wild pitch by Davis and a walk-off single from Vanessa Shippy doomed the Longhorns.
  2. Why isn’t Ellsworth starting?: Texas is loaded at catcher. Team captain Randel Leahy has been hitting the ball well in previous games, but Ellsworth is on the junior’s heels to become the starting catcher. Ellsworth has yet to win the job despite leading the team in batting average and slugging percentage; she’s started in 13 of 31 games. If head coach Connie Clark wants to keep Leahy behind the plate, Ellsworth surely seems to be the best option for designated player.
  3. The offense is severely lacking: Texas’ collective .288 average ranks fifth among the seven Big 12 teams. The Longhorns’ .416 slugging percentage is second-to-last in the league, as is their 17 home runs.  Stephanie Wong is the only Longhorn to rank in the top 10 of any offensive category in the Big 12; she’s tied for eighth in runs scored with 23.
Randi Rupp and Texas State (24-5) will host Texas on April 5 in San Marcos. CREDIT: Texas State athletics

ON DECK: The Longhorns are off this weekend from Big 12 play, but do host Houston for a doubleheader on Sunday before traveling to San Marcos next Wednesday. Texas’ upcoming schedule (all games will air on 105.3):

Sunday — vs. Houston, 1 p.m., 3:30, LHN

April 5  — at Texas State, 6, Spectrum Sports

Sam Houston State sophomore pitcher Lindsey McLeod, a 2015 graduate of Westlake High, won her first Southland Conference pitcher of the week honor on Monday. CREDIT: D.J. Shafer/ Sam Houston State athletics

AROUND THE HORNS: Here’s a quick look at story lines involving the Big 12, state schools,  the Longhorns and their opponents:

  • Randi Rupp wins second straight Sun Belt honor: Texas State junior Randi Rupp picked up her second straight Sun Belt pitcher of the week honor. She posted a 0.00 ERA in two complete-game shutouts against Louisiana Monroe. Rupp had 17 strikeouts, bringing her season total to 151, which is the 10th most in the nation. … Texas State received votes for the first time this season in this week’s NFCA/USA Today coaches poll. The Bobcats host Georgia State this weekend for a three-game series Saturday and Sunday and host Texas on April 5.
  • Westlake alum Lindsey McLeod was untouchable: Sam Houston State sophomore pitcher Lindsey McLeod, a 2015 graduate of Westlake, was the Southland Conference’s pitcher of the week. She allowed no runs in 12 innings, striking out 15 and giving up only four hits. She held opponents, which included No. 14 Baylor, to a 0.098 batting average and tied a career high with 11 strikeouts against Central Arkansas.
  • No. 7 Texas A&M takes series over Missouri: Sarah Hudek hit a three-run home run to lift Texas A&M to a 7-3 win over Missouri to take their series. Missouri’s win came on Saturday, a 5-1 decision that handed Aggies sophomore Samantha Show her second loss of the season.  Texas A&M (28-3, 7-2 SEC) beat Texas State on Wednesday and travels to Columbia, S.C. this weekend for a three-game series against South Carolina.
  • Big 12 weekly awards: Oklahoma’s Nicole Mendes and Baylor’s Kelsee Selman took home Big 12 honors this week. Mendez, a freshman utility player, was the player of the week; she hit two home runs and four RBIs in Oklahoma’s 4-0 run at the College Preview Tournament. Selman, a senior, was pitcher of the week after going 3-1 in the circle with a 0.91 ERA in 20 innings of work. She had 31 strikeouts.
  • Last week in the Big 12: Texas Tech swept Iowa State, Baylor won two of three games against Kansas, and Oklahoma played a non-conference slate, going 4-0.

BIG 12 POWER POLL: Oklahoma State sits at the top of the standings after sending Texas to an 0-3 start in Big 12 play for the second year in-a-row. They may stay there if they can sweep Kansas at home this week. Speaking of the Jayhawks, they upset Baylor in extra innings in game two of a three-game series.

RANKTEAMRECORD (Big 12) LAST WEEKTHIS WEEKNOTE
1Oklahoma State22-11 (3-0)4vs. Kansas (March 31-April 2); vs. Tulsa (April 5) Prior to Wednesday's game against Arkansas, Cowgirls are 8-2 in last 10 games.
2Baylor28-6 (2-1)1vs. Texas Tech (March 31-April 2)Bears let an extra-inning game get away from them, but Texas Tech should be a sweep.
3Oklahoma28-7 (0-0) 2vs. Iowa State (March 31-April 2); vs. Arkansas (April 5) Sooners had the conference bye last week, opens against Iowa State as winners of 8 of last 10.
4Kansas19-14 (1-2) 5at Oklahoma State (March 31-April 2); vs. Creighton (April 4)Jayhawks got a win against Baylor, but travel to red-hot Oklahoma State this weekend.
5Texas Tech16-14 (3-0)7at Baylor (March 31-April 2); vs. Abilene Christian (April 5) Red Raiders swept Iowa State and likely will avoid a last-place finish.
6Texas17-14 (0-3)3vs. Houston (DH, April 2); at Texas State (April 5) For second-straight season, Texas opens conference play 0-3. Few non-conference games to warm up for Oklahoma next week.
7Iowa State15-19 (0-3)6At Oklahoma (March 31-April 2); at Nebraska (DH, April 5)Cyclones hoped to get out of cellar for first time since 2011, but it's likely not happening this year.

That’s all the dust for this week. As always, swing for the fences.

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