At 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds, sophomore David Hamilton is a bit undersized compared to your traditional five-hole hitter. But since being moved to that spot in the batting order, Hamilton has come up big.
The infielder started the year as the Longhorn’s lead-off hitter, but after missing time due to an injury, Hamilton was moved down in the lineup. For a player who had no home runs coming into the season, the change from lead-off man to clean-up hitter was a big one.
But over the past four games, Hamilton has amassed a team-high five RBIs. Hamilton drove in six runs against the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley on April 17, setting Texas’ season high for RBIs.
The recent performances of the usually soft-spoken Hamilton have drawn the praise of head coach David Pierce.
“I like him in the five-hole, and I like him hitting behind Zach (Zubia),” Pierce said. “David is about as cool as they come. He doesn’t talk much, but he carries a big stick.”
The emergence of Hamilton gives the Longhorns an offensively potent infield — one that already includes junior Kody Clemens and his staggering 49 RBIs. Clemens has offered similar praise for Hamilton and the call to move him down in the lineup.
“I love it,” Clemens said. “(Hamilton) always has these spurts where he goes ‘0-for’ and then, what do you know, he’s 3-3 or 4-4. He’s good.”
While Hamilton has started to thrive in his new role as an RBI man, he’s also retained the skill set that made him an effective leadoff hitter. The sophomore ranks seventh in the country with 26 stolen bases, just four less than the rest of the Longhorn roster combined.
Junior infielder Masen Hibbeler, considered one of the faster players on the Texas roster, ranks second on the team with 10 steals. Still, the infielder can’t help but feel envious of the speed Hamilton brings to the table.
“I wish I was as fast as D-Ham,” Hibbeler said. “He’s an automatic stolen bag if he gets on first. He’s just lightning fast — he’s just crazy fast.”
Hamilton now prepares for a matchup against his hometown university as the Longhorns (30–17, 12–6) square up against San Marcos’ Texas State (22–21–1) on Tuesday for the second time this season. In the first meeting, Hamilton hit his first collegiate home run in a 6-1 victory.
The Bobcats have been struggling as of late. The team is 4–6 over its last 10 games, and is only 1–5 in its last six series. Although Texas State comes into the matchup with a middling record, Texas knows it’s not a team to take lightly.
“They beat us (in San Marcos) last year, and they’re a scrappy team,” Hamilton said. “We know they’re a team we can’t take it easy on.”
The Longhorns also are in the midst of a dry spell. This past weekend, Texas lost its first conference series against West Virginia since falling to Kansas State in March. The burnt orange surrendered 22 runs over the weekend, the second most they’ve allowed in a three-game series this year.
First pitch for the contest against the Bobcats is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at UFCU Disch-Falk Field on Tuesday night.