The Longhorns came into the season welcoming a fresh coaching staff. The players knew changes would be made, and adaptation was required to flourish under the new regime.
What Texas didn’t plan on facing, however, was a plethora of injuries to highly valued upperclassmen on the roster.
But that’s just what’s happened.
Senior outfielder Zane Gurwitz has only started 10 games and continues to deal with a lingering hamstring injury. Junior outfielder Patrick Mathis hasn’t been back in the lineup since he ran into a wall during Texas’ match against Texas A&M on March 14.
“They’re just neither at 100 percent yet, and both injuries are very unusual, or very unnoticeable,” head coach David Pierce said. “So, you think they’re ready, and they want to be ready. But it’s just a matter of healing time they need. And that’s all we can do is wait on them.”
Although the Longhorns lost some veterans due to injury, younger players have been given chances to shine.
Redshirt sophomore Tate Shaw and freshman Austin Todd have emerged as significant role players in outfield positions while holding the third and fourth-highest batting averages on the team, respectively.
“I love Tate (Shaw) stepping up,” junior outfielder Travis Jones said. “I think that’s been like the highlight of the season for me … I love watching the kid play. And (Austin) Todd’s been stepping up too — he’s been great in the outfield. I’m really happy for both of them. We really needed it, given what happened to Pat (Mathis) and Zane (Gurwitz).”
Other players’ roles also came to fruition as the season progressed. Sophomore pitcher Beau Ridgeway entered the spring without a clear perception of his place in the
“Honestly, I had no idea what I was going to do coming into this season,” Ridgeway said. “I talked with our pitching coach, Coach (Phil) Haig, and he told me I needed to be ready to start, relieve, close, so I was ready for it all.”
But after proving that he could thrive during tight situations late in the game, Ridgeway quickly inherited the closing position — he leads Texas pitchers with five saves
“I love the pressure, I love being in the moment,” Ridgeway said. “Coach Pierce always talks about the moment of truth, going in whenever the game’s on the line and that’s my favorite.”
As the Longhorns host Oklahoma this weekend in the annual Red River Rivalry, each player continues to find ways to prove himself during the “moment of truth.”
“It’s just being ready when called upon,” junior catcher Michael Cantu said. “It’s just about being in a great attitude, and great things will happen. It’s about being positive. It’s not about me, it’s about winning. So if we win, I’m happy.”