Jonathan Fletcher

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.

Club Baseball

The Texas club baseball team plays for the Gulf Coast North conference championship this weekend.

Photo Credit: Andrew Torrey | Daily Texan Staff

Forget about the past. From now on, it’s win or go home for the Longhorns.

After posting a perfect record during conference play, the Texas club baseball team will look to take two of three from Texas Tech this weekend and claim the Gulf Coast North conference championship for the first time since 2006.

“Obviously, we expect to beat the Raiders this weekend in two games,” said junior outfielder Jonathan Fletcher. “But this is just one of many stepping stones needed to reach our ultimate goal.”

The teams will play a double-header starting at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at William B. Travis High School. If necessary, game three will happen Sunday at Vista Ridge High School.

Although the Longhorns aren’t looking past the Red Raiders, they realize that this is just the beginning, as they hope to accomplish their preseason goal and make a run at the National Club Baseball Association’s World Series.

If the team is able to win this weekend’s three-game series, it would move on to the regional championships where it would play the Gulf Coast South conference champion. The Longhorns are equally fond of their chances in that matchup.

“In the regional, we expect to win,” Fletcher said. “We would most likely play our archrival, Texas A&M, and would have to win another three-game series.”

If the Aggies advanced to regionals to play Texas, it would be a shot at redemption for the Longhorns. A&M swept the series last time the two met in late February. Texas hasn’t lost since.

Once through regionals, the team would move on to the NCBA World Series held at Golden Park in Columbus, Ga. The park is known by many for its use as the official softball venue during the 1996
Summer Olympics.

Texas realizes how much it would mean to the program to reach the World Series and have an opportunity to win the first national championship in the club’s 10-year history.

“To move on to the World Series in Georgia would be a great accomplishment for the club team,” Fletcher said. “We have worked hard this year to make it to that point, and we feel we have a good shot at this feat. We would be one of eight teams out of the 120-plus Division I clubs to make the World Series.”

Regardless of what happens during its postseason run, this year’s team has already had great success. Led by fourth-year player and coach Patrick Hyde and a young, powerful starting rotation, the Longhorns’ 29-4 regular-season record is the best in club history. The team has won 12 straight and has a perfect 9-0 record in conference play.

“This team has been successful because everyone on the team has a lot of talent, and everyone on the team works extremely hard,” Fletcher said. “The team is made up of many ex-collegiate players and several players with high school experience.”

But success is what you make it.

“It feels great to be a part of one of the most successful club teams here at UT,” Fletcher said. “However, to us, the year will not be successful until we bring home a national championship.”