The list of Longhorn Legends reads longer than a Lord of the Rings novel, but who is the ultimate Texas Longhorns ambassador? That's what Horns Illustrated aims to determine in our Longhorn Legends Faceoff and the answer lies in your hands.
We've reached the semi-finals of the Lady Horns Region, devoted to UT's finest Lady Longhorn athletes, and two softball greats are squaring off against a track legend and dominant administrator. Cat Osterman made quick work of her past competition and faces Chris Plonsky. And softball great Blaire Luna pulled off a huge upset, beating Texas basketball's Jody Conradt. Now it's on to a match-up against Olympian Sanya Richards-Ross. Who will emerge victorious? That's up to you!
Osterman, a four-time All-American and two-time Olympian, belongs in the discussion of greatest softball pitchers ever. How impressive was Osterman on the mound? She's the only softball player to win National Player of the Year honors three times and became the first softball player to appear on a Sports Illustrated cover in 2002. You want more records? Cat owns plenty of them. She holds career records at UT in victories (136), ERA (0.51), shutouts (85), and no-hitters (20). The southpaw pitcher also stands as the only player in NCAA history to lead the nation in ERA three times still hold the NCAA all-time lead for strikeouts per 7-innings (14.34).
Chris Plonksy understands better than anyone that Texas athletics represents more than just a game. The administrator just capped off her 25th year with the university and continually helps to build the Longhorn brand into a powerhouse. As Women's AD and UT Athletics' chief liaison with multimedia rights holder IMG College, Plonsky continually grows the burnt orange into the most recognizable university in college sports. You didn't think blockbuster deals like UT's agreement with ESPN to create the Longhorn Network fall from the sky, did you? Since Plonsky took the reins as Women's AD in 2001, the Texas Women's teams have reeled in 39 Conference Championships and 3 National Championships. What we're saying is that all Plonsky's teams do is win.
A young gun in our Longhorn Legends Faceoff, Luna holds her own against any opponent and proved to be one of the greatest UT pitchers ever. The three-time All-American hurler rocketed her way to recognition as a freshman, earning Big 12 Pitcher of the Year and Freshman of the Year honors. By the end of her career at Texas, the Austin native finished in the top three in nearly every career pitching category, including wins (2nd/112), innings pitched (2nd/914.1), complete games (2nd/109), shutouts (2nd/48), strikeouts (2nd/1,428) and lowest opponent batting average (3rd/.156). Perhaps best of all, Luna helped lead the Longhorns in 2013 to their third Women’s College World Series semifinal appearance in program history.
Richards-Ross wasted no time bursting onto the college track & field scene, winning the NCAA national championship in the 400 meters event as a freshman. In her two years at the University of Texas, the Jamaican-born speed demon became a five-time NCAA Champion and 11-time All-American. She owns the school records in the indoor and outdoor 400 meters, and showed Longhorns fans a glimpse of her future as a four-time Olympic Gold medalist and six-time World Champion. We also give her some burnt orange brownie points for marrying another Longhorn athlete, former Longhorn cornerback and current NFL pro, Aaron Ross.