For just the second time in a month, the Longhorns won’t be playing in the comfy confines of UFCU Disch-Falk Field. And this time, they don’t get a trip to Hawaii.
Instead, Texas is in Stillwater, Okla. today for a three-game series against Oklahoma State (16-5, 1-2 Big 12), its second conference series of the season.
“This away series will be a little bit easier to focus on,” said senior pitcher Taylor Jungmann. “We’re in Oklahoma, not in Hawaii. There’s no beach.”
Jungmann’s topographic knowledge is spot-on, and he is also well informed about the Cowboys’ ballpark, Allie P. Reynolds Stadium — regarded as a hitters’ park.
“I remember the ballpark from when I was a freshman,” he said. “It was freezing, and the wind blows out. It’s a Cracker Jack box.”
It will certainly be a different type of venue for the No. 5 Longhorns (16-5, 3-0), who are used to their pitching-and-defense-friendly setting at the Disch. Here, pitchers can afford to give up a long fly ball because the outfield walls are so tall and far — 405 feet at its deepest parts. The Longhorn batters have only hit four home runs all year, and their pitchers have given up the same amount.
So, with dimensions about 10 feet shallower than the Disch, will the Longhorns treat Reynolds Stadium as a launching pad?
“With the new bats this year, I’m not sure,” said junior Jordan Etier. “But I remember we were taking batting practice there my freshman year, and some people were hitting balls way out.”
Oklahoma State’s hitting numbers reinforce their ballpark’s reputation. The Cowboys are batting .319 as a team and have a .485 slugging percentage, a statistic used to measure power numbers. They go deep frequently, with already 10 homers on the year — more than double Texas’ number.
“Their stats are better than ours,” said Texas head coach Augie Garrido. “Their batting average is very credible, and they always play us tough. Just like our team is built for this place, their team is built for that park.”
But the ‘Pokes have yet to face anything quite like Texas’ pitching staff. The trio of Jungmann, Cole Green and Hoby Milner has proved a daunting and difficult puzzle for opposing hitters to solve, with a combined 9-2 record and 2.31 ERA between the Longhorns’ weekend starters. It will be their responsibility to hold in check an Oklahoma State offense that is averaging eight runs a game.
“When you have a midweek game [Texas’ 12-0 win Wednesday over Houston Baptist] where you have a lot of pitchers who have thrown already, it’s important to go pitch deep into the game in weekend series,” Jungmann said. “I have to go out there and stay focused.”
But don’t expect Jungmann to change anything about his game plan just because Oklahoma State has a smaller ballpark.
“We have to go out there and play our game to get the win,” he said. “We’re not going to change anything for anybody.”
“We try to build a consistency based on our own team,” he said. “We can’t control anything the other team does, but we try to control our own performance.”