Through the first two games of the season, Texas looked a lot like last season’s team that finished last in the Big 12. It pitched well, but that was about all, as it dropped two in a row to an unimpressive Cal team.
Since then, it’s been all smiles as the Longhorns have hit their stride, winning nine of their last 10. This past weekend, Texas captured the Houston College Classic title, beating No. 20 Sam Houston State, previously unbeaten Houston and No. 18 Rice. The polls rewarded them by moving them up to No. 10.
The Longhorns look to continue their streak against Valparaiso (4-5), a school they have never faced, 6 p.m. Tuesday at UFCU Disch-Falk Field to start a home stretch that includes 13 of their next 14 games.
Texas has changed its attitude since last year as it has become mentally tougher. In the words of head coach Augie Garrido, the 2013 Longhorns “mastered the art of losing the one-run game.” Last year they lost 15 games by two runs or fewer, 10 of which were by one run.
But, this season, Garrido’s team has been resilient, with five comeback victories and four one-run wins.
“The attitude of this team and the will of this team is much stronger,” said Garrido before this past weekend’s tournament.
He uses the UTPA game as an example, where Texas was down and out for most of the night but used a late ninth-inning rally before walking it off in extras.
“Good teams find a way to win,” Garrido said. “Offensively, you might grade it out to a ‘D’ — something like that, low for sure — but we still won the game, and that’s what good football teams do. That’s what good basketball teams do.”
Garrido attributes this to the team’s energy.
“I think a lot of that has to do with the spirit of the team, and I think this team has a lot of spirit,” Garrido said.
In addition to spirit, the Longhorns also have a dominant pitching staff that is sporting a 2.04 ERA, which tops the Big 12 ranking and is one of the best in the nation.