Previewing The Lafayette, La. Regional: Texas
The Lafayette, La. softball regional gets underway on Friday at Lamson Park, with four teams vying for a trip to the NCAA Super Regionals.
Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns, the top-seed in the regional, and the #14-overall seed, will be playing host to the Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Longhorns, and Boston Terriers in the double-elimination event.
Texas A&M will take on Texas in the first game of the regional, on Friday at 3:30 pm, followed by a match-up pitting Louisiana and Boston U at 6 o'clock.
Today, we preview the Texas Longhorns:
Making their 17th NCAA tournament appearance, Texas, members of the Big XII, will also be making their 12th-consecutive regional appearance.
The Longhorns, who enter the regional with an overall record of 37-14, will be making their second trip to Lafayette for a regional in the last three years, after dropping two games to Louisiana back in 2014.
They are probably playing their best softball of the season, having won 10 of their last 11 games.
Texas is a team that relies on pitching, speed, and defense to win games.
Offensively, the Longhorns don't have a lot of power. Entering this weekend, they have only 40 home runs as a team.
By contrast, Louisiana will enter this weekend with 98 homers.
But the Longhorns can score. They have 8 players in their line-up that are hitting a .288, or higher, including one hitting better than .400.
Leading the way is senior outfielder Lindsey Stephens, who is hitting a .401 with 12 homers, 43 RBI's, and 17 stolen bases, while junior infielder Celina Felix is hitting a .370 with 8 homers and 39 runs batted in.
Offensively, look for Texas to put the bat on the ball this weekend. They don't strike out a lot, they hit the ball in the gaps, they'll play small ball, and they'll steal a base on occasion.
The strength of the Longhorns is their pitching staff, specifically Tiarra Davis.
The senior left-hander will enter the regional at 22-9 with a 1.72 ERA., while sophomore right-hander Paige von Sprecken is 11-3 with a 2.78 ERA..
Davis is an experienced pitcher who has had success in regional play over her career, and will have to pitch well for Texas to be successful this weekend.
She went 1-2 against the Cajuns in 2014, and was the losing pitcher in both games of the 2014 regional.
Davis can be wild from time-to-time, allowing 100 walks in 195 innings, but she keeps the ball in the ball, throws a variety of pitches, and normally gives her teams a chances to win.
Connie Clark, in her 21st year as head coach of the Longhorns, is one of the most respected coaches in the country, and will have her team ready to compete this weekend.
To be truthful, Texas just doesn’t have the offensive firepower that Louisiana and Texas A&M will bring into the regional.
That being said, the Longhorns are more than capable of advancing to the Super Regionals, as long as Davis gives the type of performance that's expected of her.
A key will be Texas facing Texas A&M in the first game.
You would think Davis would pitch that game.
The A&M hitters will challenge here, and whether or not Texas wins, it might make Davis more vulnerable the following day, and through the regional.
The key for Texas is to stay in the winners bracket, but as long as they have Davis they have a shot.
The complete regional schedule is below:
NCAA LAFAYETTE REGIONAL SCHEDULE
Friday, May 20, 2016
G1: 3:30 pm – Texas A&M vs. Texas (ESPN2)
G2: 6:00 pm – Boston University vs. Louisiana (ESPNU)
Saturday, May 21, 2016
G3: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2
G4: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2
G5: Winner Game 4 vs. Loser Game 3
Sunday, May 22, 2016
G6: Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 5
G7: (if necessary) Winner Game 6 vs. Loser Game 6