Only 31 miles straight down I-35 separate the Longhorns and the (14-8-1) Texas State (14-8-1). But it feels like much more distance separates the two baseball programs.
Texas leads the all-time series against the Bobcats, 47–11, and on Tuesday night, the Longhorns (15–10) will travel the short distance to San Marcos for another bout with Texas State. It’s the first of the home-and-home series that the two teams will face each other this season. They square off again on May 1.
Texas enters Tuesday scorching hot, having won six of its last seven games. The offense, which has exploded recently, is led by junior second baseman Kody Clemens. The left-handed hitting infielder has been on fire since day one. He’s currently hitting a team-leading .372 with seven home runs and slugging a ridiculous .721.
“(Clemens) is not only a leader, he’s just fun,” Texas head coach David Pierce said. “He plays the game with energy. He plays the game with passion. And when he’s swinging it well, he’s as good as anybody. (The team) loves him and they feed off him.”
Helping Clemens lead the charge at the plate has been the batter that usually follows him — redshirt-freshman designated hitter Zach Zubia. The 6-foot-4 mountain of a slugger has put on a show since taking over the cleanup spot. He currently ranks fourth on the team with a .288 average. He’s also second on the team in both home runs and on-base percentage, both behind Clemens, and is tied with Clemens in RBIs with 24.
The next goal for Zubia is gaining some playing time at first base. So far this year, Zubia’s role has been exclusively in the DH spot. Pierce has expressed his desire for Zubia to start getting some reps at first base, an ever-changing spot that’s been occupied by five others since opening day. Zubia, however, is believed to be the future of the position.
“I got to keep on working every day in the fielding positions,” Zubia said. “I got to get more reps, I got to get more practice. I’ve got to show the coaches I can play first base. It’s easy to go in a cage and hit 100 balls off a tee. But when it comes to fielding, you’ve got to go out there, you’ve got to move around, take ground balls. It’s a work in process. Hopefully I can start playing some first base soon rather than later.”
Freshman pitcher Nico O’Donnell is slated to start in Tuesday’s game. O’Donnell’s last start barely made it through three innings despite only surrendering one run. A solid showing Tuesday night should boost the freshman’s confidence as the team’s mid-week starter.
Tuesday night’s game at Bobcat Ballpark is scheduled for 6 p.m.