While the pros and Longhorn baseball team still have a while to wait, the Texas club baseball team is starting to grind its axe in anticipation for the spring season.
Club baseball is different than the NCAA sanctioned baseball team. For starters, the NCAA does not endorse it. Club players don’t play in the same conference, and they don’t play for a scholarship. This is purely played for fun, but there is still an extremely high level of competition played on the club baseball diamond. Senior center fielder Jonathan Fletcher, who had a scorching hot fall season at the plate hitting an eye-popping .467, can attest.
“I myself played at Angelina College [D1 junior college], and most of the guys on the team could have easily played somewhere else coming out of high school,” Fletcher said. “It’s not uncommon to see guys on the club team that recently got kicked off the NCAA team for various reasons, and it’s not uncommon to see club teams play NCAA teams and actually beat them.”
The club team plays in the National Club Baseball Association, which is made up of 220 division one and division two schools. The University of Texas team resides in the Gulf Coast South division, which consists of Texas A&M, UTSA and San Antonio College. If the boys in burnt orange win the division, they head to the regional round where they play three other division winners in a double elimination tournament. If they again are successful, they go to the World Series in Georgia. Eight teams compete in the Club Baseball World Series, and Fletcher fully expects his veteran led team to wind up competing in it come late May.
“We have a bunch of returning talent and we added a couple of really solid new players as well,” Fletcher said. “Our expectation is to win the World Series, plain and simple.”
The team is run by the students, but that doesn’t mean there is time to mess around.
“The team is not taken lightly by any means,” Fletcher said. “We still have mandatory practices three times a week and a lot of other guys get together to hit and throw on the weekends. I love playing club baseball.”
Tryouts for the spring season are on Saturday, and it’s fair to say that those trying out are chomping at the bit to get the season under way. The Longhorn club team has big expectations to try to fulfill, and the grind of the season is nearly upon them. These seriously talented ball players are trying to make memories for a lifetime, and they aren’t settling for anything less.