Strong pitching has been the catalyst for the No. 10 Longhorns, whose offense has started to find its groove during a five-game win streak.
Texas (10-3) secured its fifth win in a row Tuesday against Valparaiso behind seven pitchers who allowed just one run on four hits in the 7-1 victory. Freshman pitcher Blake Goins picked up his first collegiate win after throwing three scoreless innings.
“Well, Goins looks like he could step into the arena pretty quickly,” said head coach Augie Garrido after the performance. “What I like about it is [the pitchers’] overall confidence in themselves and what they contribute to the pitching staff.”
The Longhorns’ pitching staff has surrendered just four runs during the winning streak, compiling a 0.77 combined ERA in 47 innings.
Texas’ seven runs in the win against Valparaiso gave it 17 in the last five games, but the statistic that jumps out of the box scores is the team’s 33 combined hits in the last five games. Hitters are getting on base, forming a confidence that should keep the Longhorns moving forward.
Garrido still feels that for the team to truly rise to its potential, it must start making sacrifices to master all of the little things.
“I still think the scope of our game is very small,” Garrido said. “What I mean by that, is you don’t see us stealing a lot of bases; you don’t see us running any crash bunt defenses. You don’t see us doing many hit-and-runs or things like that because we are playing the game we know how to play at this moment in time because that is what we know how to do. We need to expand the scope of our game, and when we are going to do that, I don’t know.”
The Longhorns will host the four-game series against a Hawaii team that is 6-6 on the season, coming off of a four-game series split with Pepperdine. Hawaii’s offense is hitting just .252 as a whole this season, but averages slightly more than five runs per game, which should test the effectiveness of the Texas pitching staff.
Senior outfielder Mark Payton has shouldered most of the load for the Texas offense this season as he enters the weekend series with a team-leading .458 average and nine RBIs. Freshman batters like Kacy Clemens and Ben Johnson have come on lately to lend Payton a helping hand, instilling the right mindset into the team.
“I think he is playing defense at an extremely high level, and offensively he is playing OK,” Garrido said. “He has one RBI, and it was an RBI that won a game. We have used the model of the Red Sox; we have used the model of UCLA. Don’t worry about the batting average — just make your contribution. Keep battling, keep battling, don’t worry about your batting average.”
With confidence soaring and the right mindset finding its way to the surface, the Longhorns will look for their sixth-straight win Friday in Game 1 against Hawaii.