#28 Texas Softball 2016 Preview

Texas Longhorns

Overall Rank: #28
Conference Rank: #3 Big 12

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Texas laid the foundation for a strong 2016 season in 2015. They had a young team and still won 38 games. And now eight of their nine main position players are returning and the 1-2 run at the Los Angeles Regional taught some very valuable lessons for the Longhorns and that will set them up to hit the ground running in 2016.

2015: 38-17, 17-6
2015 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Connie Clark

Field Players:
Senior outfielder Lindsey Stephens is back to headline an offense that returns 88 percent of its run production and 95 percent of their homeruns. Stephens hit. 343 with 15 homeruns, 47 runs batted in and 14 stolen bases. Senior catcher Erin Shireman will be another key pure power hitting source for Texas. Shireman hit ten homeruns, drove in 46 runs while hitting .312. Senior outfielder Stephanie Wong brings additional leadership and an ability to hit. She batted .323 with two homeruns, 15 runs batted in and, most importantly, 12 stolen bases in 15 attempts. She will be a great table setter for the heart of the Longhorns lineup all season long. Senior infielder Stephanie Ceo will provide a lot of leadership and stability as well in the infield, which will allow Wright and the rest of the pitchers to go after hitters more aggressively.

Erica Wright did a very nice job in her freshman season in 2015, posting an 18-9 record with a 2.42 earned run average. Wright also got after hitters as she only allowed 79 walks in 170.2 innings pitched, while accumulating 178 strikeouts and limiting opposing batters to a .209 batting average. Look for Wright to take a big step forward in 2016, especially once Big 12 play starts as that year of experience and knowledge will be very invaluable for her to draw from.

Who to Watch:
Infielder Devon Tunning is the leading returning hitter for Texas when it comes to batting average. She hit .350 last season for the Longhorns. Tunning also will be looking to match or surpass her career high in homeruns of seven from the 2015 season. Tunning’s ability to hit for power and a high average are a dynamic combination that will makes opposing pitchers lives miserable on a daily basis this season.

Final Projection:
The schedule lays out very nicely for Texas to start the season. They will be home a great deal in Austin. North Carolina will provide a strong test during the opening weekend of play, along with North Dakota State and Arkansas. A neutral site battle with Arizona on March 12 will be a great litmus test for the pitching staff as the Wildcats are perennially a very explosive team at the plate. As far as the race for the Bug 12 Championship is concerned, it is going to come down to how this veteran Texas team steps up on the road since five or the six games against Baylor and Oklahoma are on the road. If the Longhorns can go 2-3 or 3-2 in those games, they will have a chance to contend for the Big 12 title. Bottom line, this will be a fun team to watch with a chance to make a nice tournament run.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Lindsey Stephens, OF, 169
Hits: Lindsey Stephens, OF, 58
Home Runs: Lindsey Stephens, OF, 15
RBIs: Lindsey Stephens, OF, 47
Runs: Lindsey Stephens, OF, 44
Stolen Bases: Lindsey Stephens, OF, 14

Wins: Erica Wright, P, 18
Innings Pitched: Erica Wright, P, 170.2
Strikeouts: Erica Wright, P, 178
Complete Games: Erica Wright, P, 14

Madness 2016 Draft Rankings:

#58 Reagan Hathaway


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