When a baseball player suits up in a burnt orange uniform, there is a certain hint of pride that comes with the tradition of the Longhorn logo on his chest.
The crack of a bat hitting a ball at UFCU Disch-Falk Field revives 123 years’ worth of endearing memories for one of the most successful ball clubs in college baseball history.
But with the flush of a new coaching staff, just how much of the six national titles and 35 College World Series appearances still resonate throughout the organization.
“I wouldn’t say there’s a huge change,” redshirt junior pitcher Morgan Cooper said. “It’s new faces. I think that just brings excitement.”
After splitting the home-opening series with Rice, Longhorn fans have a more realistic perspective of the season’s direction as a whole. The Longhorns swung their bats at a .211 average over the weekend, while Rice found the ball at a .254 performance.
“I want to know more about our players, and I want them to understand who they are,” head coach David Pierce said. “We won game one of the doubleheader because of putting the ball into play. We really want to be able to score multiple ways.”
Texas gathered 11 runs at a pitcher-friendly ballpark throughout its two winning games in the series. This offensive success sharply contrasted from the team’s three runs collected during Rice’s victories.
Nevertheless, senior first baseman Kacy Clemens’ performance was unaffected by his squad’s wavering start to the season. He posted a .545 weekend batting average and found perfection in going 3-for-3 with a home run and a pair of RBIs on Saturday night.
“The confidence grows over there,” Clemens said. “Whatever happens out here, I can’t control ... But all I know is if I keep putting the work in that I’m doing over there, I’m putting myself in a better chance to succeed out here.”
Pierce recognizes Clemens’ leadership role as a key aspect of motivation for the team and hopes the Longhorns can build off his offensive success from the weekend.
“He has the ability to make kids better than maybe they even are, because he’s a great leader,” Pierce said. “Offensively, he hit the ball as well as anybody did all weekend, including Rice’s guys. … I think it’s a great start for him and we need to feed off of him.”
With the outfield fences retracted for the new season, it is easy to assume the long ball will be an integral part of Texas’ offensive strategy. But Clemens believes it is a much more intricate approach.
“We don’t want the home run to be our game,” Clemens said. “We want to be able to score runs by hitting line drives in the gaps, moving people down with productive outs and needing a big hit
every once in awhile.”
Texas expects every batter ww the team to pull the same amount of offensive weight, regardless of where ve lands in the lineup.
“I think if you flipped our lineup completely upside down, we’d be just as good,” Clemens said. “We’ve got a lot of guys that can really handle the bat. We’ve just got to get more disciplined.”
Although the series split against Rice could foreshadow another season record hovering around .500, the Longhorns can make a serious run for Omaha if they adapt to the offensive changes attached with the new coaching regime.
“We’re going to grow as a team,” Clemens said. “We’re young, but we have chemistry, so I think everything’s going to turn out just fine.”