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Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

If fans worried that the Longhorns’ outburst of runs at Kansas this past weekend might not carry over to Austin, those fears were put to rest quickly Tuesday night.

Texas batters lashed out eight hits and scored five runs in the first three innings, including the team’s first home run at home in almost a month, in a 7–3 win over Texas State.

After giving up two runs in the top of the first, the Longhorns immediately responded in the bottom half of the inning by getting the first three batters on base, none of which came on a hit. Freshman first baseman Michael Cantu followed that up with a double-play grounder that brought in a run. 

“All of us as coaches saw a good carry over from the Sunday game into this game,” head coach Augie Garrido said.

Sophomore first baseman Tres Barrera tied the game when the Texas State center fielder whiffed on a catch, allowing a run to come across and Barrera to scamper all the way to third. Freshman third baseman Bret Boswell drew a bases-loaded walk later in the inning to give Texas the lead.

Two innings later, sophomore center fielder Zane Gurwitz lined a shot off the left-field foul pole for a two-run homer to give the Longhorns a 5–2 lead. The blast was the first Texas home run at UFCU Disch-Falk Field since senior right fielder Collin Shaw hit a two-run home run against Kansas State on March 22.

Gurwitz, who had six hits and three RBIs in the series against Kansas, said keeping the game simple is what ultimately led to the team’s success.

“It’s been working — just keeping the game simple and bringing it back to the basics,” Gurwitz said. “If you make it too hard on yourself, it’s going to eat you up.”

Boswell added a two-run home run, his first collegiate four-bagger, in the eighth inning to up the lead to 7–3.

Sophomore starting pitcher Josh Sawyer, who has been up and down this season since being dropped from the weekend rotation, struggled early in the game. He threw 29 pitches, giving up two runs on a double to left and a single up the middle.

But Sawyer settled in after that, retiring the next 11 batters and finishing the night with four strikeouts in five innings of work — the most innings he’s thrown since March 8 at Stanford.

“I was leaning forward, so [associate head coach Skip Johnson] said, ‘Just stop when you get down to the bottom — and then go forward,’” Sawyer said.

The win is Texas’ second victory over Texas State this season. The Longhorns defeated the Bobcats 6–4 in San Marcos on March 24. The two will meet again May 5 in Texas’ last regular-season home game.

The Longhorns resume conference play with a crucial series at TCU beginning Friday.

Photo Credit: Lauren Ussery | Daily Texan Staff

After a three-hit, one-RBI night earlier this month, freshman shortstop Joe Baker found himself in the middle of  his first media scrum, where he was given a surprising nickname.

Despite only recording three RBIs so far in his freshman campaign, he was dubbed “the RBI maker,” a name that, at the time, didn’t quite fit.

“This is a great opportunity,” Baker said. “To be at The University of Texas — it’s an honor to be here. But I like that name.”

Baker, a native of McKinney, lived up to his moniker Sunday against Kansas as he hit his first collegiate home run and finished with a team-high four RBIs.

While he earned his nickname because of his offensive performance, his defense has kept him on the field. Baker has completed numerous highlight plays for outs at shortstop.

Baker made a sliding grab against Wichita State, diving toward third base and making a long throw to first to get the out. The play was even featured on SportsCenter as the No. 6 play of the day.

He has become a successful addition to the Texas starting lineup, and his teammates have taken notice.

“All of these guys are hard workers like Joe,” senior second baseman Brooks Marlow said. “Joe is coming in at a tough spot playing shortstop. Joe is playing so hard right now. He’s getting the job done right now. I’m proud of Joe.”

Before coming to Texas, Baker missed his senior season of high school because of an injury. But during his junior season, he hit .383 with 17 RBIs and 18 stolen bases for the McKinney Lions. Baker was named to the All-District 10-5A second team as a sophomore and a freshman.

Baker’s breakout year comes as the Longhorns struggle to find their way out of a slump. Before defeating Kansas, 16–7, and securing its first three-game series victory since March 22, Texas had lost three-straight weekend series and 11 out of its last 15. He’s currently hitting .262 with 16 hits and 8 RBIs.

“Joe Baker, at shortstop, [is] another bright spot,” head coach Augie Garrido said. “Some great plays by Baker. There are individual performances that are really good. We have good players, but they’re not able to extend the rallies.”

Texas (20–18, 8–7 Big 12) hopes its series win against Kansas can fuel a late-season rally. The Longhorns also hope Baker continues to live up to his nickname and keep up his defensive performance when they take on Texas State on Tuesday.

“We have to pick each other up,” Baker said. “No matter what coach says where to go, we just do our job.”

Texas beat the Bobcats, 6–4, in their first meeting in San Marcos on March 24. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday  at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.

Junior infielder C.J Hinojosa went 4-for-6 at the plate and hit for the cycle in Sunday’s blowout win over Kansas.
Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

For almost a month, the Longhorns struggled to piece together key hits and big run-scoring innings. They had only one three-run inning in their last 12 games and failed to score more than four runs in all but one game in that span.

This Sunday, those struggles all came to an end.

Texas’ bats woke up in a big way, and the team took its first series victory since late March. Texas batters pounded out 23 hits, five home runs and went 8-for-16 with runners in scoring position in a 16–7 win Sunday over Kansas to take the series.

“It puts us right in the running and keeps us in the race,” head coach Augie Garrido said.

Junior shortstop C.J Hinojosa, who came into the series in a bad funk, found himself at the center of the re-emergence of the Longhorns offense. He kicked off the scoring with an RBI double to left in the third inning and then scored himself on a double by freshman first baseman Michael Cantu a short while later.

Two innings later, Hinojosa came through again with a runner on base, lining a triple to the gap in right-center field and scoring senior right fielder Collin Shaw. Hinojosa’s shot came as part of a seven-run fifth inning, all of which came with two outs. It was the most runs Texas had scored in an inning since their home opener on Feb. 17.

Hinojosa capped his day off with a two-run shot over the wall in left field to complete the cycle — the first Longhorn since Kyle Russell in 2007 to do so.

Junior left fielder Ben Johnson came through in a major way as well, drilling two home runs to left, knocking in three runs and coming up a triple shy of the cycle himself. Freshman designated hitter Joe Baker hit a two-run shot of his own had four RBIs.

“We make a lot of fly ball outs, so when that wind [was blowing] out today, our batters’ eyes got about as big as silver dollars,” Garrido said. “They were very excited about knowing that their fly balls were going to make it over the warning track and over the fence.”

Before Sunday’s offensive spark, the Longhorns nearly fell victim to another late-game disappointment Friday night. With the game tied at two in the bottom of the 11th, Kansas opened the frame with a walk and a single and then loaded the bases after a sacrifice bunt and an intentional walk. But senior pitcher Ty Marlow got the next batter to hit into a double play to end the threat.

Three innings later, Johnson legged out an infield single to give Texas its first extra-inning win since March 13. But Kansas got its revenge Saturday night with a walk-off home run in the ninth to set up the rubber match Sunday.

The series win pulled Texas back up above .500 in conference play and moves the Longhorns to two-and-a-half games back of Oklahoma for first place in the conference.

Oklahoma junior catcher Anthony Hermelyn was named the Big 12 Player of the Week after hitting .529 last week in four games.
Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

Oklahoma’s junior catcher Anthony Hermelyn was named Big 12 Player of the Week, and Texas Tech’s senior pitcher Cameron Smith earned Big 12 Pitcher of the Week honors.

Kansas’ freshman third baseman Matt McLaughlin and junior pitcher Blake Smith were named co-Big 12 Newcomer of the Week award.

This week’s awards were the first for Hermelyn, McLaughlin and Smith. This is Smith’s second Big 12 pitcher of the week award this season.

Losses create Big 12 chaos

Upsets this weekend set two top teams in the Big 12 back.

No. 8 TCU, the conference’s second-ranked team going into the weekend, lost two games against Kansas State. The Wildcats piled on 14 runs on 18 hits Friday in a 14–4 win over the Horned Frogs. TCU evened the series Saturday with a 9–0 win. However, Kansas State prevailed 6–2 Sunday, and the series loss dropped the Horned Frogs into a third place tie with Texas Tech in the conference.

Kansas (15–21, 3–6 Big 12) upset No. 15 Oklahoma State, dropping the Cowboys from sole possession of first place to a first-place tie with Oklahoma. The Jayhawks lost Friday’s opening game, 2–7, but rallied to win Saturday’s game, 3–2, and clinched the series, 4–2, Sunday.    

Five Big 12 players named to Golden Spikes Award Midseason List

The list, which is composed of 60 NCAA Division I baseball players, features three TCU pitchers — junior Riley Ferrell and seniors Preston Morrison and redshirt sophomore Mitchell Traver – Oklahoma State’s senior pitcher Michael Freeman and Texas’ senior left-fielder Ben Johnson.

The award honors the country’s best amateur player. The list will be cut to 30 players and semifinalists’ names will be announced on May 22. The winner will be named on June 23.

Big 12 teams remain ranked

TCU is ranked in the top 10 in four of the national polls, despite losing two games this weekend. The Horned Frogs are ranked as high as No. 6 in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll.

Oklahoma State is also ranked in four of the major polls, ranked as high as No. 10 in the Collegiate Baseball. The Big 12 has one other team ranked, with Texas Tech at No. 25 in Baseball America’s poll. Oklahoma received votes in two polls.

West Virginia opens new stadium

West Virginia opened a new baseball stadium this weekend: Monongalia County Ballpark.

The Mountaineers christened their new stadium with a 6–5 walk-off win against Butler in front of a record crowd of 3,110.

West Virginia went on to sweep the Bulldogs with an 8–0 win on Saturday and a 12–4 win on Sunday.

Photo Credit: Charlotte Carpenter | Daily Texan Staff

After a nine-game winning streak, including three wins against No. 22 Kansas, Texas dropped three straight to Oklahoma at the Red and Charline McCombs Field over the course of the weekend.

In the softball edition of the Red River Rivalry, the Sooners entered the matchup with a 28–24 advantage, but the Longhorns were hopeful they could produce.

“We’re just going to try and go and attack them and see what we can do,” freshman pitcher Erica Wright said before the series. “They are a really good team obviously, but we’re a good team too.”

No. 5 Oklahoma (36–5, 9–0 Big 12) showed Texas (27–12, 3–3 Big 12) early how they had managed a 6–0 conference record and stayed at the top of the Big 12. Much of Oklahoma’s success arose thanks to freshman pitcher Paige Parker, who gave the Longhorns trouble all weekend. Parker earned two wins as she pitched 16 innings, struck out 21 batters and allowed just six hits and no runs.

In the first inning of the first game, Oklahoma senior first baseman Lauren Chamberlain led off with a double. Shortly after, senior shortstop Shelby Pendley brought her in on a two-run shot to give the Sooners a quick 2–0 lead. Texas sophomore shortstop Devon Tunning reached on an infield single in the bottom of the inning to improve her on-base streak to 22 games. But the next three batters went down, and the Longhorns left her there until the end of the inning.

The Longhorns provided a few reasons for optimism through the rest of the game, including a run-saving tag by junior catcher Erin Shireman in the third, another single for Tunning and a hit for junior outfielder Lindsey Stephens. But at the end of play, none rounded the bases, and the Longhorns lost, 8–0 — their biggest deficit of the season.

“We have to stay focused on ourselves and stay in attack mode,” head coach Connie Clark said.

And the Longhorns did that — for a little while, at least — in the next game.

In the second game of Friday’s doubleheader, the Longhorns jumped to a quick 1–0 lead on Stephens’ 13th home run of the season. With an offensive advantage, senior Gabby Smith stayed strong at the mound and retired the first 12 to keep Texas in the lead through four.

But in the top of the fifth, the Sooners quickly took over. Chamberlain hit one out of the park to tie up the score. Before the end of the inning, the Sooners scored another run off a hit by pitch with the bases loaded, putting them up one.

Down 3–1 after another Oklahoma run in the sixth, sophomore pinch hitter Mickenzi Krpec jumped on base from a single and advanced on an error to second. Unfortunately, the swing stopped there and three consecutive outs stranded Krpec on second for the remainder of play.

“They have a quality program and have quality athletes. We have a quality program, and we have quality athletes,” Clark said. “It really comes down to execution, making the pitch and competing well.”

The final contest failed to result in execution, as Parker held the Longhorns scoreless in seven innings of play. On Saturday, the Longhorns drew more walks than they had hits, as they had four walks and only two hits. When the last pitch had been thrown, the scoreboard read 4–0 in the Sooners’ favor.

The Longhorns play UT-Arlington on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at McCombs field.

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

The Big 12 was something of a powerhouse in 2014. 

The conference saw two teams reach the semifinals of the College World Series, three play in the quarterfinals and four ranked in the top 10 of all four national polls at the end of the regular season. 

But with the season well underway and the conference tournament just over a month away, only two Big 12 teams find themselves fulfilling national expectations. 

The ranked teams

Baseball America has TCU (25–6, 6–3 Big 12) tabbed as the fourth-best team in the country. 

The Horned Frogs are fueled by their pitching staff, which boasts a 1.98 ERA — the best in the nation. 

They aren’t explosive offensively — as a team, the players have hit just nine home runs — but they are consistent. Senior outfielder Cody Jones leads the offensive production with a .347 batting average. 

Oklahoma State (23–9, 7–2 Big 12) currently sits atop the conference and is No. 15 in Baseball America’s latest poll. The Cowboys have the nation’s seventh-best team ERA at 2.42 and lead the Big 12 in runs scored with 227. While Oklahoma State’s pitching is impressive, its offense is even better — just ask Oklahoma.

Oklahoma State eviscerates Oklahoma

As previously mentioned, the game between the Cowboys and the Sooners displayed just how dominant the Cowboys offense can be. They didn’t just beat Oklahoma — they beat them down. 

Behind a 20-hit effort, the Cowboys won with a final score of 24–2 in the nonconference matchup. It was the largest margin of victory in the history of the Bedlam series.

The loss ended the Sooners’ five-game win streak, which included a three-game sweep over conference opponent Kansas. Oklahoma (22–13, 6–3 Big 12) is currently tied for second in the Big 12 standings.

On a losing skid

Since its 2–1 series win over Kansas at the end of March, Texas Tech has lost four of its last five games. As a result, Texas Tech, which was ranked No. 19 last week, fell out of Baseball America’s weekly rankings this week. 

Baseball America ranked the Red Raiders No. 5 in the preseason following their College World Series appearance, the first in program history. Tech returns 22 players from last season’s roster, including its entire starting infield, two starters in the outfield and eight pitchers who started games last season. 

Texas snapped a seven-game losing streak, which included a sweep to Oklahoma State, with a win over Wichita State on Tuesday night. 

Weekly Awards

Oklahoma junior first baseman Anthony Hemelyn earned the Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week award on April 6. The Pitcher of the Week award went to Texas Tech senior left-hander Cameron Smith. Kansas freshman third baseman Matt McLaughlin and West Virginia junior right-hander Blake Smith shared Newcomer of the Week honors. 

Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

Coming off of a sweep of No. 22 Kansas to open conference play, Texas looks to continue its momentum Wednesday against Houston at Cougar Softball Stadium.

Texas (23–9, 3–0 Big 12) enters the matchup against Houston (17–17, 2–0 AAC) with both teams undefeated in their respective conferences. The Longhorns boast a 7–1 record on the road, while Houston struggles with a 9–8 record at home.

 The Longhorn lineup leads Texas’ strong offensive performance this season. Sophomore leadoff hitter Devon Tunning is batting .279 on the year while accumulating a team-high 26 walks — over a fifth of the team’s total. Second in the order, sophomore outfielder Stephanie Wong leads the team in batting with a .368 average and has reached a base safely in a career-long streak of 15 games.

“Those two are seeing the ball very well right now,” head coach Connie Clark said. “I’m really pleased with our offense, and our ability to make needed adjustments has been tremendous.”

Despite the Longhorns’ road record and strong lineup, they have struggled in opening innings on several occasions this season. Texas is 9–8  in games when recording a scoreless inning. On the other hand, Texas is 10–1  when scoring more than one run in the opening frame. In last weekend’s three-game series against Kansas, this early momentum played a huge role.

In the first game, along with a series of walks, a couple of singles and a three-run homerun in the first inning helped the Longhorns jump to a quick 4–0 lead over the Jayhawks. The next game, the Longhorns took another 4–0 lead in the first, leading to another victory.

“We started off hot, and I think that was pretty significant to set the tone for the game,” Clark said after Friday’s victory over the Jayhawks.

On Friday, Texas gave Kansas starting pitcher Alicia Pille her first loss of the season after she started 18–0, and, in the second, the Longhorns’ opening burst led to Pille’s removal from the mound with just one out in the game.

“Coming into Friday at someone else’s place, you have the leadoff come out and get on and wreak havoc —  that’s one thing,” Clark said. “To do it a second-straight day, you saw a little of the air come out of the tires across the diamond. Kansas certainly kept battling, but to get the momentum is important.”

Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

Texas started its Big 12 campaign with a three-game sweep against No. 22 Kansas this weekend.

A solid offensive performance in Lawrence, Kansas, anchored the Longhorns’ (23–9, 3–0 Big 12) success, as Texas’ bats got started early in each game, accumulating nine first-inning runs. Longhorn hitters shook Kansas’ ace, senior Alicia Pille, early and often to hand Pille her first two losses of the season.

“We came in wanting to attack immediately, and I think we did a great job of that,” junior center fielder Lindsey Stephens said. “We saw [Pille] last year, and so we knew what kind of stuff she was going to bring, and we were able to make adjustments and see the ball well.”

Stephens notched seven RBIs and two home runs in the series. Junior catcher Erin Shireman and junior right fielder Holly Kern both hit home runs as well, garnering eight RBIs in total.

As a team, the Longhorns scored 24 runs and attained 35 hits against a talented Kansas (29-5, 0-3 Big 12) pitching staff.

With six players boasting batting averages above .300, the Jayhawks offense has had success this season. But the Longhorn hurlers battled pitch to pitch and managed to give up just 22 hits throughout the series.

“It’s really good as a defensive player to see your pitchers work hard every day like ours do,” Stephens said. “We just let them know we have their back and help them stay motivated and pitching a good game.”

Freshman pitcher Erica Wright improved to 10–4 after earning wins in the first and third games of the series. Freshman hurler Kristen Clark earned a win in game two and her first collegiate save in game three.

“They came in with a good mentality, made adjustments and continued to do what’s needed to be competitive,” head coach Connie Clark said.

Being able to make adjustments is something Connie Clark thinks is vital, especially now that conference play has started. Adjustments and focus helped Texas claim the final game of the series.

A leadoff home run by Kansas junior shortstop Chaley Brickey in the bottom of the seventh cut Texas’ lead to 7–5. Kristen Clark entered the game in relief with one out and the bases empty, but a single and two walks put the freshman in a difficult position.

With two down and the bases loaded, Kristen Clark got Kansas junior center fielder Briana Evans to strike out swinging to lock up the victory.

“I’m really pleased with the weekend,” Connie Clark said. “We were able to keep being competitive and our ability to make needed adjustments has been tremendous.”

The Longhorns return to action Wednesday to face Houston on the road.

Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

After a nonconference schedule that brought 20 wins for Texas, the Texas softball team will play their first conference matchup against the Jayhawks this weekend in Lawrence, Kansas.

Despite dropping nine games this season, Texas (20–9) has won six of the last seven, including sweeping Arkansas in a three-game stint. This weekend’s matchup against No. 22 Kansas will be Texas’ second three-game series this year, but those will happen often in upcoming play.

Kansas (29–2) is 8–0 at home this season and sits atop the Big 12. However, the Longhorns have had historical success against the Jayhawks. When the two teams met last year, the Longhorns took two of the three with a combined run advantage of 12–5. They even shut down the Jayhawks in each of their victories.

Both teams have made some changes on both ends. With seniors graduating on both sides, Kansas has picked up seven freshmen while Texas has four of its own, none of whom have ever played in conference play before.

“We’ve tried to teach them to make adjustments and how we need to make adjustments earlier in the game, rather than two games later when the series is almost over,” junior outfielder Lindsey Stephens said. “If you strike out, it’s how you approach the next at bat. For our freshmen, let it roll off your back.”

As a team, Texas has found success against high-ranked opponents, including No. 12 UCLA, No. 13 Arizona State and No. 19 Georgia. But the team has also been plagued by inconsistency, losing to teams of lower caliber by as many as eight runs.

Despite the Longhorns’ shaky record, Stephens said he remains optimistic.

“We keep learning new things about ourselves, and it’s good right now,” Stephens said. “We learn our weaknesses, and we are trying to figure out how to make those things our strengths.”

The Longhorns’ strengths this season include 25 home runs, six players batting over .300, 180 combined strikeouts from the mound and a 2.74 team ERA from the plate.

With the Longhorns over halfway through the season, the upcoming contest takes on additional significance.

“Yeah, it’s conference, and things mean a little more now than they did before, but we should play it like we’ve been playing,” Stephens said.

Despite a strong showing against UTSA this week, one of the Longhorns’ main priorities is minimizing mistakes as they head into conference play. 

“At the end of the day, it’s always about you, and it’s about the adjustments you make, the approach you take,” head coach Connie Clark said. “Consistent approaches help as best they can get the results you want.”

Friday’s game will air on ESPN3 at 5p.m.

While sophomore guard Isaiah Taylor had 17 points and eight assists to go along with six rebounds, a few errors in the final minute led to a loss for the Longhorns to Kansas on Saturday, 69-64. The Longhorns dropped to 17–12 on the season and 6–10 in conference play with the loss.

Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

With hopes of an NCAA tournament berth hanging in the balance, Texas men’s basketball came close to pulling off an improbable victory in college basketball’s toughest road venue Saturday.

But, as it almost always seems to do, No. 8 Kansas once again found a way to win in front of its home crowd. 

Now, with just two games remaining on the schedule, Texas finds itself in jeopardy of missing the tournament for the second time in three seasons.

The Longhorns will fight Monday to keep their postseason hopes alive when they return home to face Baylor, which handed them their worst loss of the season last month in Waco. For a chance at redemption versus the Bears, Texas will need to quickly put Saturday’s tough loss in Lawrence, Kansas behind it.

The Longhorns led well into the second half in the 69–64 loss to the Jayhawks, leading by as many as 6 points with under 10 minutes remaining. But Kansas got hot from the field and the free throw line late, closing the game out with a 16–10 run in the final 6:52 to ice the victory.

Kansas junior forward Perry Ellis was at the forefront of that second-half surge, scoring 12 points in the final 9:30 of the second half. He finished the game with 28 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks. It marked the third consecutive 20-point game for Ellis, who has emerged as a front-runner for Big 12 Player of the Year.

Texas missed on a couple of opportunities late to tie the game. With Texas trailing 66–64 with 48.3 seconds remaining, sophomore point guard Isaiah Taylor missed the front end of a one-and-one. Then, with the score the same and 6.1 seconds remaining, Taylor missed an off-balance layup attempt on a play in which he appeared to be fouled — though the referees didn’t call it.

Taylor led the Longhorns with 17 points and eight assists to go along with six rebounds, but the final minute didn’t go as hoped.

Despite Ellis’ impressive game, the Longhorns turned in one of their better defensive performances of the season. They held Kansas to just 36.2 percent shooting from the field and, remarkably, limited the sweet-shooting Jayhawks to just one made 3-pointer in eight attempts.

Texas’ interior defense was especially impressive. Freshman forward Myles Turner racked up five blocks in the game, while junior center Prince Ibeh had four. Texas had 14 blocks in the game.

With the victory, Kansas improved to a perfect 15–0 at home this season. The Jayhawks have now won 24 consecutive home games, and improved to a remarkable 189–9 at Allen Fieldhouse under head coach Bill Self.

The Longhorns dropped to 17–12 on the season and 6–10 in conference play with the loss. A victory would’ve greatly improved their résumé as they try to earn a spot in the NCAA tournament, and now, with just two games remaining, they’re very much on the bubble to make the Big Dance.

A win over Baylor might at least keep Texas in the discussion for a NCAA tournament berth. A loss at home to the Bears, however, would damage their postseason hopes even further.