While rain showers confined Texas to the visitor’s locker room on Sunday in Waco, center fielder Duke Ellis described a vibrant scene where players took part in games together.
“(We played) a little hacky sack, a little two ball,” Ellis said. “Some of the guys had a little blown-up baseball and it wouldn’t fly very far, but we hit it with our hands. We had a little game going, guys laughing. We connected as a team.”
Ellis recalled the rain delay as disappointing, but said it allowed the team to bond and reset for this weekend’s series against Kansas State.
“The rain sucks, but … during the rain delay, I think we became closer as a team,” Ellis said. “We had a great time even though the weather wasn’t too prime, but I think it prepared us for this upcoming weekend.”
Saturday’s game against Baylor was a tough one for Ellis. Known for his athleticism in the outfield, Ellis had two collisions — one with Baylor’s wall while chasing a flyball and another with left fielder Eric Kennedy.
“Sunday afterwards, I woke up hurting, took some ibuprofen, got ready for the game, felt great, and after sitting down for like three and a half hours, it tightened back up and I was hurting again,” Ellis said. “But, I’m sure if the game came back around, I would’ve been good to go.”
Ellis, a junior from the small town of Nacogdoches, Texas, has played a vital role for the Longhorns during the 2019 season. He leads the team with 31 runs, tying Kennedy for the most runs on the team.
Against Rice on Tuesday, Ellis put the Longhorns in scoring position with a leadoff triple in the bottom of the first. With the wind breeze around 5 mph that night, Ellis said he initially believed it might’ve been a home run.
“I mean, with the wind blowing like it is today, I thought I got all of it,” Ellis said. “I hit it and I didn’t think it was going out. But then I saw it keep carrying and I thought it was going to peak over, but it was one of those things. I’ll take a triple.”
Fellow outfielder Austin Todd followed suit with a single up the middle and allowed Ellis to put the score at 1-0.
With a 3-1 win over Rice behind them, the Longhorns will face Kansas State on Friday for conference play. With a new slate of games ahead, Ellis said this weekend is a chance for the Longhorns to showcase their quality hitters.
“Like I’ve said from the beginning, I feel like we’re going to be a very disciplined team hitting-wise,” Ellis said. “And you know the extra-base hits will come and go, and I feel like they’re coming on at a perfect time. It can’t get more perfect.”