Less than one week after sweeping a three-game series with then-No. 2 LSU, the Texas Longhorns will face another top-10 matchup in Palo Alto for a meeting with No. 6 Stanford.
While the sweep against LSU was a very strong inclination of Texas’ ability to compete with the best teams in the nation, there is still more Texas head coach David Pierce wants to see from his team when playing ranked opponents.
“I want to see us go out there and play clean defense, and really attack the strike zone,” Pierce said. “If we do that, it gives us a chance to be very competitive (in the series).”
Texas struggled with both aspects of the game Pierce mentioned in the series with LSU. The Longhorn defense accumulated eight errors and the pitching staff walked 13 Tigers in the three-game series alone.
Despite much room for improvement on the defensive side of the ball, the Texas offense has been clicking, having scored 27 runs during its current four-game win streak.
But the matchup with Stanford’s pitching staff could be the toughest test of the season yet for the Longhorns. After all, the collective ERA of the Cardinal staff is an impressive 2.46.
“We know that they have some power arms and we’re looking forward to it,” said right fielder Austin Todd, the reigning Big 12 Baseball Player of the Week. “As a hitter you want the best of the best coming at you (because) it really tests you. So it’s great, I love the competition.”
Texas is quite familiar with the power arms of Stanford with the two teams having met for a four-game series in each of the past two seasons. Texas is a combined 2–6 in those games.
Despite the previous lack of success against Stanford, pitcher Blair Henley believes this year’s series could end in a more favorable result for Texas thanks to the depth and production provided by the 2019 newcomers.
“We have six or seven freshman (in the bullpen). The first week we threw 16 guys, and they all did well,” Henley said. “It’s good to know that everyone in the bullpen can come out and give us a (scoreless inning).”
Playing Stanford on the road has not been an easy task for any team over the past two seasons. Stanford has a combined record of 57–13 at Klein Field at Sunken Diamond.
This weekend’s trip out west will be the Longhorns second true road series of the year since the season opener in Lafayette, Louisiana on Feb. 15. The Longhorns are returning to Palo Alto for the first time since Pierce’s second season as Texas’ head coach in 2017 when Stanford won three of four games in the series.
“That’s one of the toughest places we go every single year,” Pierce said. “We’re going to have to be good to do well out there.”