Redshirt junior infielder Bret Boswell took the plate with the score tied in the tenth inning of Texas’ exhibition against USA Baseball’s Under-18 National Team.
The contest marked the first dugout appearance for new head coach David Pierce. And with the swing of a bat, Boswell blasted the ball deep into center field to drive in the winning run, putting an exclamation point on a new era of Longhorn baseball.
“I think that it’s kind of like a fresh start for a bunch of guys,” sophomore outfielder Tyler Rand said. “You have brand new coaches, you have a clean slate. Everybody’s coming out here to prove themselves and I think it’s just going to be all but good things going here on forward.”
The program’s fresh start comes at a much-needed time. The team finished 25–32 last season — its worst season in over 10 years under head coach Augie Garrido. And Pierce brings a strong resume to rebuild the program.
The former Tulane and Sam Houston State coach won his conference in four out of his last five years. And now he’s ready to reshape the Longhorns’ culture.
“[Garrido] had his philosophies and the way he did things,” Pierce said. “I respect every part of the game that he coached and the way that they played the game … We’ve utilized what they’ve done, and then our job is to try to create our philosophy in the way we want to do things.”
Pierce’s players rave about their new coach. They said they don’t expect a down season after the transition; Pierce is ready to step in and start winning.
“Coach Pierce came here and he was ready to get to work,” junior catcher Michael Cantu said. “He wants to win now; it’s not one year, it’s not two years. He wants to win now. I think this team is ready to win now, so he’s getting right on it and he’s made the adjustment a lot easier for all of us.”
Pierce said he’s taking the same approach he took upon taking over Tulane and Sam Houston State’s programs. Despite the different in size between Texas and Tulane, he believes his coaching style will translate anywhere.
Texas’ seniors have also made a point to help Pierce in his transition — they want the entire team to buy in.
“I think [the seniors have] been awesome,” Pierce said. “It’s not any one thing they’ve done, I think it’s the reception. When you have good players and you start looking at some changes like the way we warm up, they’re very open-minded and that’s the way the coaching staff wants to do it, so we’re all on-board. I’ve really appreciated that so far.”
While the Longhorns’ win over Team USA’s under-18 team is a positive start, the team still needs a full offseason to prepare for a full schedule. Piece said he’s still watching film and making relationships to get to know his players.
But the Longhorns insist their program now has a different feel to it. And they believe Texas fans are in for an exciting 2017 season.
“It’s great,” senior outfielder Zane Gurwitz said. “All of the rumors about [Pierce] — being a great coach, a very easy guy to get along with — they’re all true … They’re great coaches and they know the game of baseball.”
This story has been updated since its initial publication. David Pierce coached at Tulane, not Tulsa.