In the Big 12 Softball Championship’s final first round game, the (3) Texas Longhorns defeated the (6) Texas Tech Red Raiders 9-1, and only needed five innings to do so.
Texas will face (2) Oklahoma State in the Big 12 Championship semifinals tomorrow at 4:00, with the winner earning a spot in Saturday’s Championship game.
The Longhorns looked like the superior team in this one pretty much from the start, contrary to Thursday’s other matchups that were closely matched from beginning to end.
Here are three things about Texas’ first round victory that stood out to me.
Hailey Dolcini Continues to Deal
Coming into the Big 12 tournament, Texas pitcher Hailey Dolcini was on a tear, going 2-0 last week against Baylor with a perfect 0.00 ERA and 12 strikeouts over 11 IP. Those numbers earned her the final Big 12 Pitcher of the Week honors, and she kept on rolling today against the Red Raiders.
In 5.0 IP, Dolcini collected 7 strikeouts, allowed just four hits, and held TTU to a .235 batting average.
Dolcini now has a 19-7 record on the year and has played some of her best softball in the final month of play, which is good news for the Longhorns and bad news for anyone who has to face her. I don’t expect that Oklahoma State will see her tomorrow, unless things go horribly wrong in the circle for Texas.
The Fresno State transfer also has a feather in her cap that nobody else can claim: a win over Oklahoma this season.
Longhorns Offense Pours it On
The Texas offense must not have gotten the memo that defenses were in charge on Thursday, as the Longhorns lit up the scoreboard tonight, putting up eight runs in the first three innings and seven in the third inning alone. The light show was highlighted by Katie Cimusz’s three-run shot, the first and only home run of the day for any team.
Texas Tech just never had an answer for the Longhorns defensively, and didn’t help themselves with two costly errors, one of which cost them a run. UT was able to pull away early in this one, but it didn’t seem to take the fire away from Texas Tech, who fought back all game long. Unfortunately, as it has been all season, it was just too little, too late for the Red and Black.
Is Texas v. Oklahoma State the Game of the Weekend?
Obviously, Saturday’s Championship game is going to see the most hype of any of the matchups, but is the semifinal matchup of the Longhorns and Cowgirls the best matchup of the weekend? Texas looked really good in their win over Texas Tech, while the Cowgirls struggled to put Kansas away down the stretch. Oklahoma State is comfortable in defensive struggles, as that is their strength at this point in the season, but will Texas’s offense stay hot enough get them to the championship?
There is more than just the Big 12 title on the line as well, because seeding for the NCAA tournament will be decided on Wednesday, and an appearance in the Big 12 Championship would go a long way in ensuring that Oklahoma State is a Top 8 seed, or that Texas is a Top 16 seed.
Either way, this is shaping up to be a great weekend of softball.