The Texas softball team finally took a day off Monday after powering through two weekends of playoff games, a pair of rain delays and three opponents for a perfect 5-0 record.
The fourth-seeded Longhorns will leave Tuesday via chartered bus for the 425-mile trip to Oklahoma City and the Women’s College World Series. It’s their first trip to Oklahoma City since 2006 and the fifth overall for the program and coach Connie Clark.
A year ago, Texas came within an extra-inning game of making the World Series. Instead, they were forced to regroup after losing to Oregon in the super regional. Those playoff games were mentioned Sunday as Texas celebrated.
“There’s a sense of relief to getting that monkey off our back after being so close the last few years,” Clark said. “But there is a whole lot of joy. It’s been awhile, so we are going to enjoy every moment and not take anything for granted.
Next on UT’s agenda is dealing with Thursday’s 6 p.m. game against No. 5 Arizona State, a team making its 11th World Series appearance.
All eight teams will play Thursday.
The other teams on Texas’ side of the bracket are top-ranked Oklahoma and No. 8 Michigan.
Six of the nation’s top eight seeds made it to Oklahoma City. The only true Cinderella teams are on the other side of the World Series bracket. Fourteenth-seeded Nebraska beat No. 3 Oregon on the road and No. 11 Washington upset No. 6 Missouri, sweeping the Tigers on their home field. They’ll join No. 2 Florida and No. 7 Tennessee, which knocked off defending national champion Alabama in the super regionals.
The World Series is a double-elimination format, with the winners of the two brackets meeting in a best-of-three series for the national title.
Texas’ Blaire Luna (30-5) might be the hottest player coming into the World Series after the senior right-hander threw a no-hitter Sunday to defeat Florida State. She totaled 23 strikeouts in two super regional games to give her the national lead. Luna is averaging 11.7 strikeouts per seven innings.
She “stepped up, and they’re rolling into the World Series with a hot person in the circle,” Florida State coach Lonni Alameda said after Sunday’s 4-0 Texas win.
Luna suffered only five losses this season, the first coming March 15 against Arizona State, when she dueled with Sun Devil ace Dallas Escobedo. Like Luna, Escobedo (30-4) had a postseason no-hitter. She threw hers in the first round against San Jose State, which did manage two unearned runs in the loss.
The hands-down favorite for the title is Oklahoma, which Texas played three times this season, losing twice.
The Sooners are playing in their third consecutive World Series and eighth in team history. Oklahoma outscored teams 59-8 in the postseason, with four victories coming in shortened, run-rule decisions.
WOMEN’S COLLEGE WORLD SERIES
Thursday-June 6, Oklahoma City, ESPN2; Thursday — 14-Nebraska vs. 11-Washington, 11 a.m.; 7-Tennessee vs. 2-Florida, 1:30 p.m.; 5-Arizona State vs. 4-Texas, 6; 8-Michigan vs. 1-Oklahoma, 8:30