Photo Credit: Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff

For many great athletes, training starts at a young age. They dedicate their lives to a sport and reap the benefits as they get older.

Junior second baseman Stephanie Ceo attributes her success to her early start in softball and to her family’s long history with the sport.

Stephanie has three older sisters — Britney, Natalie and Courtney — who all played softball growing up. Her parents, Brad and Kim, played baseball and softball growing up and are still involved with it today. The Ceos work with an 18-and-under program in their home state of California to help softball players make it to the collegiate level.

Stephanie said she never felt too much pressure to continue the family tradition. In fact, she said being coached by her parents and watching her sisters helped her get more prepared than the average freshman to play at the next level.

“Sometimes, when freshmen come in, they’re not prepared for the mental side of the game, whereas I came into college, and I was ready to start playing from the beginning,” Stephanie said. “[My family] helped me with my skills of course — but mentally, they prepared me so well to come into collegiate softball and make a difference.”

As a self-proclaimed visual learner, Stephanie said being the youngest sister helped her grown. She said she learned a lot from watching her sisters play and formed some of her own game around her sisters’ struggles and strengths.

“It was always a big motivator to be as good or better than they were,” Stephanie said. “Sometimes, sibling rivalry can become kind of a burden more than something that progresses you, but, in our family, it was always more that we wanted the best for each other.”

Her efficiency at the plate is one of the things her family helped her develop.

Stephanie’s father served as the hitting coach for Sierra College in 2012 when the Wolverines broke every California junior college hitting record. Her older sister Courtney was a standout hitter for the Oregon program from 2011 to 2014 and finished her career as the leader in three offensive categories.

Stephanie currently boasts a .311 batting average and is three RBIs away from reaching 50 in her career. As Texas faces Texas Tech in Lubbock this weekend for a Big 12 Conference series, Stephanie’s .483 road-game batting average will be a nice weapon.

Although the win-loss record in this matchup is swayed heavily in Texas’ favor, Stephanie and head coach Connie Clark are expecting a fight from the Red Raiders.

“We’ve played well on the road this year, but playing in Lubbock is always a challenge,” Clark said. “We’ll have our work cut out for us.”

The Longhorns (31–12, 6–3 Big 12) are entering this series with momentum from a crucial three-game sweep of Iowa State. Texas Tech (21–24, 5–7) is riding a four-game win streak after a conference sweep of their own over Oklahoma State. The Red Raiders will look to their leading hitter, junior Jordan Bettiol (.389), to spark their chances defeating Texas.

First pitch of the series is set for 6 p.m. on Friday.

Matt and Kim, a Brooklyn-based indie-pop duo, released their latest album, New Glow, on April 7. In their fifth LP, the pair experiments with additional EDM and hip-hop elements that add to their signature high-energy dance music, but the resulting blend feels like less than the sum of its ingredients.

On New Glow, Matt and Kim scrub the production squeaky-clean, creating a synthetic feel to the songs. There’s little variation between tracks, with one quirky dance beat drifting right into the next. The sugar rush of Matt and Kim’s signature dance music quickly fizzles out because of the repetition.

Matt and Kim attempt to shake up their usual keyboard and lo-fi drum combo, adding horns to the opening number, “Hey Now,” and swapping out the traditional piano sound for funky synths on some tracks, such as “Killin’ Me.” 

Underneath the new production elements, though, the music remains defined by the simple melodies and cutesy delivery that made the band successful.

New Glow offers the occasional shot of energetic dance music. The bumping, grinding beat of “Hoodie On” stands out among the album’s more generic tracks. Enthusiastic songs, such as “Make a Mess” and “Stirred Up,” channel Matt and Kim at their lively, irreverent best, but these songs are the exception. Much of New Glow sounds as if it were written on autopilot.

Matt and Kim’s music has always been proudly immature. They’re more interested in putting out upbeat music than introspection. Their resistance to pretension can be refreshing in a music scene filled indie groups bent on becoming this generation’s Morrissey. But New Glow lacks Matt and Kim’s original exuberant bounce and joy.

The lyrics have never been the point of Matt and Kim’s music, but New Glow’s rhymes feel particularly phoned-in. Lines such as “live every day like it’s your first” and “we don’t want to go home” fill verses that sound as if they were designed to be pasted over inspirational stock photos.

The duo attempts to switch up the pace with the album’s closing track, “I See Ya.” They address their personal relationships with friends and family in the uncharacteristically slow, emotional song. But, following the previous nine tracks, “I See Ya” sounds like an afterthought rather than a new direction for the band.

Matt and Kim tend to focus on live performances  and fill their shows with improvisation and raunchy stage antics. They spent much of the nearly three-year gap between their last album, Lightning, and New Glow on tour. Matt and Kim’s upcoming show next Thursday at Stubb’s BBQ will likely be memorable. 

Despite New Glow’s generic sound and repetitive tracks, the cheerful lyrics and strong beats of the album will be sure to please a crowd. Matt and Kim’s commitment to putting out energetic, danceable music is admirable. But as a stand-alone listening experience, New Glow lacks depth.

Artist: Matt and Kim

Tracks: 10

Rating: 5/10

What: Matt and Kim concert

When: April 23

Where: Stubb’s BBQ

Admission: $25


CD Review - Matt and Kim

Brooklyn-based duo Matt and Kim do not know what restraint is; stuffing drumbeats, major chords, piano melodies, synths, lyrical hooks and shouting vocals into a blender and sticking whatever comes out on an album. It sounds like one hell of a time, and the duo keeps the good times rolling with its third album, Sidewalks.

If there is one major difference between their second album, Grand, and this album, it’s that this one is catchier and more immediate. On the first song “Block After Block,” the synthesized beats do not sound too far from a Top 40 hip-hop infused pop song, especially with the “yeah”s that jump in and out of the song. No matter what any hipster tells you, Matt and Kim make pop music, but their best songs always had an off-kilter, hard edge to them. The exuberance and the joy of their debut album get lost with Sidewalks because the tracks begin to become indistinguishable. They all sound almost too perfect and too calculated to be fun songs.

Oddly enough, the songs that stick out the most are the slower ones that build up to something more than ear candy. On “Northeast,” singer Matt Johnson longingly sings for his favorite part of the country over restrained synths, tambourines and piano chords. With songs like that, Matt and Kim lose the guise of being only about jamming out.

Sidewalks provides a little more than 30 minutes of ear candy, but Matt and Kim would do well to stick something a little rougher and substantial to the blender on their next album.

For fans of: Sleigh Bells, Blink-182 and Discovery