To say that 2012 was a disappointment would be an understatement. The Longhorns finished 30-22 on the season and 14-10 in the Big 12 in what proved to be, statistically, the worst campaign for the Longhorns since 1998. The similarities between that 1998 season and the one experienced in 2012 are striking.
In 1998, the Longhorns finished 23-32 on the season and 11-18 in conference play. In 2012, the Longhorns lost three straight conference series to Texas A&M, Missouri, and Baylor late in the season. The last time that happened was in 1998. Before the losses, the Longhorns had won their past 12 conference series dating back to a series loss to Oklahoma State in 2011.
In addition, the pitching staff, which traditionally carried the light-hitting Longhorns, underperformed. The team’s ERA in 1998 was an astonishing 6.36. In 2012, the team ERA was lower at 3.43, but still too high for the Longhorns.
The main similarity between the two squads is the most noticeable, and perhaps the most painful: The Longhorns failed to reach the NCAA postseason in both 1998 and 2012. From 1999 to 2011, 14 years, the Longhorns appeared in the NCAA Tournament every year. They traveled to the College World Series in Omaha seven times and brought home two national titles.
After that dismal 1998 season, the Longhorns rebounded in 1999 with a 36-26 season record and 17-13 Big 12 conference record, followed by an appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Although the Longhorns were eliminated in the first round, it was an improvement. In 2000, the Longhorns took it one step further and made the trek to Omaha for the College World Series. Four seasons later? The Longhorns were bringing home a national title. There is hope for the 2012 squad to see redemption this season.
It is easy to blame last year’s struggles on injuries, player suspensions and poor hitting, but the fact remains that it is a season most just want to forget.
After the Big 12 tournament in 2012, the Longhorns held on to a little bit of hope as they waited for the NCAA Tournament bracket to be released. In 2011, Baylor reached the tournament with a record of 29-26, beneath the 30-win mark. However, it just was not meant to be.
“We don’t really talk about it,” sophomore pitcher Parker French said. “For the returning guys it is a little extra motivation just because that is not the tradition of Texas baseball. I think it has made us hungrier, work a little harder.”
But despite all of the misfortunes from 2012, the Longhorns aren’t dwelling on the negatives and are ready to start the 2013 season. They don’t feel like they are underdogs and they don’t feel like they have something to prove.
“I feel for most of us it is in the back of our minds, but it is not something we dwell on,” junior infielder Alex Silver said. “As soon as wee started working hard in the offseason, it was gone out of our minds. It is a new season with new opportunities.”
After the annual Alumni Game on Saturday, the Longhorns look to open up their 2013 campaign at home against Sacramento State ready to go and with 2012 almost gone from their memories.
“As soon as we started working hard in the offseason, it was gone out of our minds,” Silver said. “Maybe just a small reminder, but nothing that we dwell on. We are a strong team, ready to fire.”