When people talk about the Arkansas-Texas rivalry, they tend to recall stories of the old Southwest Conference. Yes, football usually takes up the lion’s share of the conversations, and basketball and baseball tend to follow suit. Their history has transcended throughout different sports in the past between the Hogs and the Horns, and it has been steeped in tradition. Head softball coach Courtney Deifel is looking to add her own chapter to this book that both teams began to write back in 1894.
Dating back to 2002, Arkansas is 0-6 all-time against Texas, and the two teams last played in 2016 at the Texas Classic in Austin. The Longhorns are projected to move to the Southeastern Conference at the start of the 2025 season, according to SEC officials, so the squads could square off every season depending on how the newly expanded conference will divide.
The 2022 Razorback softball team enters the Fayetteville Super Regional “clicking on all cylinders,” senior Danielle Gibson said. One can look at all the records the Hogs have broken and the accomplishments achieved, but they have a lot of work to do if they want to end up where they plan to finish — on the podium in Oklahoma City. The team goal since the start of the season is to make it to the Women’s College World Series after falling short to the Arizona Wildcats last year in the Fayetteville Super Regional.
Offensively, Arkansas holds the edge in almost every statistical category according to NCAA softball stats.
One can look at every statistic and start to experience paralysis by analysis, but the Hogs hold the home-field edge, and this coaching staff has developed it over the last six years.
“When we got here, we set out to win over our fanbase because we knew we had one of the best fanbases in the country,” Deifel said. “We knew we had to give them a product that they would back and be proud of. It’s such a cool atmosphere when they are here and cheering on our players. There is nothing like it.”
Arkansas has amassed 47 wins, a program-record total for one season. Over her first five full seasons and six years overall at the helm, Deifel and her staff have prided themselves on their family approach to recruiting that have helped players transition into the program.
“I have relationships with the coaches that I will have for the rest of my life,” senior Taylor Ellsworth said. “When I came in on my visit, you could see every little kid was sitting in players’ laps, so you knew they have been around, so you knew it was a family, you knew they took people in. I just got that big feeling and it was 100 percent true and genuine.”
That perseverance shows on the field, in the press conferences and in the locker room.
The Longhorns enter the super regional round with a 41-18-1 record. Head coach Mike White has carried the success he achieved at Oregon to Texas, which is making its third consecutive super regional appearance. The Longhorns did not host a regional this year, but they played like a team on a mission after upsetting No. 13 Washington to advance.
Deifel has the attention of the state focused on Bogle Park this weekend once again as the Razorbacks vie for a spot in the WCWS. First pitch of Game 1 is set for 6 p.m. Thursday and will broadcast on ESPN2.
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