Texas is coming off two dominant performances, but it took three straight defeats on the road against Stanford to light the fire the Longhorns needed to earn those wins.
After the dismal trip to Palo Alto, Calif., memories of two previous underwhelming seasons started to surface around the Texas clubhouse.
But the Longhorns shoved those flashbacks aside with their bats and headed back to the 40 Acres on a mission to improve their performances in the batter’s box.
The plan worked — the Longhorns bounced back from the losses in dominant fashion with back-to-back shutouts in mid-week matchups against Richmond and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
Twenty-four runs for Texas, zero for the opposition.
“They’ve been absolutely hammering the ball,” redshirt junior pitcher Morgan Cooper said. “I think that’s the most runs I’ve ever seen scored in a game since I’ve been here. We struggled at Stanford a little bit, so I think it was good to get going a little bit after that weekend. It was just good to see everyone get their confidence back up.”
One thing the Longhorns didn’t push aside was the emotions they felt after their three consecutive losing performances in Palo Alto last weekend. Senior first baseman Kacy Clemens left California with clear frustrations.
“I was more pissed off because we had three games (we could’ve won),” Clemens said. “We should have gone in there, and if we win game two and game three, they ain’t got a chance to win game four. The ball bounced the wrong way for us and we understand that we didn’t take as good enough at bats. The back end of the bullpen wasn’t able to get it done, and we’ve faced that head on.”
However, despite the offensive power the Longhorns displayed in their past two outings, junior outfielder Patrick Mathis continued to struggle in his slow start to the season at the plate. But he finally found a way to add to the scoreboard, and it was explosive. The junior blasted a three-run homer in the Longhorns’ 15-0 win over the Islanders.
“For him to come up and get that big (home run) and to become a part of the offense last night — hopefully he really builds on that,” head coach David Pierce said. “Patrick’s biggest issue is to really focus on the ball and trust what he works on because he has the best swing in practice every single day. So he has to trust that in the game.”
Although Texas already has six losses early in the season, much of them stem from the strong opponents the Longhorns have faced in their non-conference schedule.
But it doesn’t get any easier. Texas is set to host a three-game series with UCLA followed by a Tuesday matchup with No. 17 Texas A&M.
“I enjoy playing the tougher teams, because when we get to a regional or a super regional we’ll be facing teams that we faced in preseason, rather than never seeing these guys and seeing the arms that we’re seeing,” Clemens said. “I’m excited about it. We’re going to see another handful of really good arms and hopefully prepare ourselves for Big 12.”