An unprecedented run to the national championship series of the NCAA Division I Women’s College World Series has brought out plenty of chatter among softball fans around the country. Perhaps what the University of Texas softball team learned or even had confirmed is that no matter the sport, it seems people everywhere love to hate the Longhorns.
Let’s recap. The softball team faced elimination during the Seattle Regional and had to beat host Washington 3-2 to advance to the Fayetteville Super Regional. Waiting for them were the nationally No. 4-seeded Razorbacks who romped to a 7-1 win in the opener of the best-of-three series. Again, facing elimination, Texas found a way to win game two 3-1 to force a third contest for the right to advance to the Women’s College World Series. All Texas did was nab a 3-0 win. Forget that the Longhorns seemed to be the only team without World Series caps to wear or the poster that’s displayed in front of the team for a customary photo after winning a super regional that’s sent to the NCAA that’s used for promotional materials. Apparently, the expectation is that Texas rises above such mishaps because, well, it’s Texas.
To the NCAA’s credit, the caps were at Oklahoma City when the Longhorns arrived to play in the double-elimination pool play of the World Series. After beating UCLA 7-2 in the opener, Texas lost to top-seed Oklahoma 7-2. Texas staved off elimination yet again when it defeated Arizona 5-2 to take on Big 12 foe Oklahoma State, an opponent that went 4-0 against the Longhorns during the regular season. All the Cowgirls needed to do was beat Texas once for an all-Oklahoma national championship series.
Instead, the Longhorns rolled to a 5-0 victory to force another game against Oklahoma State in a winner-take-all contest. By the third inning, the Cowgirls led 5-0. Still, Texas found a way in an improbable way to win 6-5 and made some history as the only unseeded team to play for the national title.
Give Oklahoma credit. The Sooners showed why they may be considered one of the best teams of all time in the sport and the standard for the sport by winning 16-1 and 10-5. Twenty-five years ago, it seemed to me the Pac-12 set the standard for softball. With three of the four teams playing in the national semifinals from the Big 12 in 2022, it’s safe to say the new standard plays in the Big 12.
My favorite talking heads among the Texas haters state simply their hatred for the burnt orange isn’t toward the university’s athletes — it’s against the arrogant, entitled fan base that believes the Longhorns should win simply because of the name or the logo on the front of the jersey. As a lifelong Texas fan, I wish it were that easy.
Here’s what those talking heads won’t say. Most university athletic departments have two or three rivals, meaning their opponents say this particular university is my rival. The University of Texas has 11 self-proclaimed rivals. Not even the great series between Baylor and TCU in football a few years ago for the conference championship is better for those teams than beating Texas.
So that means the Longhorns must have the same mindset for other opponents in every contest they have for Oklahoma, which is easier said than done. Still, few fans want to hear that. They simply wants wins.
And that’s what makes what the Texas softball team accomplished so incredible. The Longhorns set a World Series record for the most double plays with eight. Freshman Mia Scott has more home runs at the World Series than all of the Longhorns’ previous five teams competing at the World Series combined and leaves with 10 hits, the most by any Longhorn at the World Series. Sophomore Courtney Day’s three home runs and eight RBIs are No. 1 on the program’s World Series categories.
Few thought Texas had enough to stay in the playoffs, much less keep winning on the road to get to the World Series. And as always, the Texas haters were waiting when Oklahoma steamrolled to repeat as national champions.
Let’s be honest. There wasn’t an opponent out there with enough to beat the Sooners for the championship. Give them credit. Softball historians will find a place for this team on the all-time list because it was great at hitting, pitching and defense.
But it would be really nice if others would recognize what the Texas softball team accomplished, too. And those who love the sport are the first to note it. I simply wish the Texas haters would allow these players, coaches and their fans to feel good about 2022 season, too.
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