There were high expectations for freshman catcher Tres Barrera coming in to the season.
Head coach Augie Garrido slotted him into the four hole from the get-go. Barrera was behind the plate that first night while senior catcher Jacob Felts, who led the Longhorns to the College World Series in his freshman season, watched from the bench.
“Augie had a lot of faith in me from the beginning,” Barrera said.
But as the season began unfolding, expectations turned to frustration. The highly touted freshman was batting .128 just over a month ago.
“I was [in the four hole] for a reason: RBIs and to bring guys in,” Barrera said. “At the beginning I was trying to do too much and that’s why I think I started slowly.”
He had no multi-hit games in the first 15, and his average was the lowest on the team. Sophomore catcher Jeremy Montalbano and Felts began getting reps behind the plate, and all of a sudden, the catching job was up for grabs.
“Of course it got into my head,” Barrera said. “But I took a step back and realized there were a lot of ball games left. Ever since then, things have been going my way.”
A three hit performance on March 11 against Texas State broke him out of that slump, and since that game, he has had nine multi-hit games while batting over .400.
“Augie said he knew it was going to come,” Barrera said.
Barrera’s power that Garrido talked about early on has also begun to rear its head. Barrera had just one extra-base hit in the first 15 games; in the next 21 games, he had 11.
But he is not just making a difference at the plate. He is making one behind it also. He is calling pitches for the a pitching staff that has a 2.12 ERA, which is fifth best in the country.
“It’s fun working with them,” Barrera said. “I study the hitters a lot before the games. They are all pretty confident in me.”
As Barrera’s bat started coming around, so did Texas (30-8, 9-3 Big 12), winning 17 of 21 games since March 11. The team has climbed all the way to No. 6 in the country.
“Winning: That’s all that matters to me,” Barrera said.
Barrera heads into the TCU series this weekend with the team’s most doubles and its third best average and slugging percentage.
The opening game will be Thursday at 6 p.m. at home, as the weekend series was moved up a day for Easter Sunday. TCU (23-13, 7-5 Big 12) is third in the Big 12, two games back of Texas. It also sports a 2.69 ERA, second to Texas.