Against a Florida team that averages almost 6.5 runs a game, Texas is going to need just about everybody to contribute offensively Saturday night. Here’s a look at some of the Longhorns that are on a roll, and some that aren’t.
Kevin Lusson: His batting average is still a pedestrian .211, but Lusson swung the bat the past two weeks with a conviction we haven’t seen all season. In regional play, the junior designated hitter drove in seven runs in five games — two three-run homers and a walk-off single. Lusson has registered a hit in the seven NCAA postseason games he’s played in, a positive sign for a guy who struggled to hit above .200 for the regular season.
Brandon Loy: The junior shortstop came up big in the third game against Arizona State, a 4-2 Texas win, with a 3-for-4 performance and a pair of RBI-doubles. The new three-hole hitter took some time to get adjusted to his new spot in the order — if this list was formulated a mere week ago, he wouldn’t have made it — but got hot at just the right time for the Longhorns.
Tant Shepherd: The Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Austin Regional, Shepherd had a big hand in helping Texas stave off elimination. The senior first baseman went 8-for-14 and drove in five runs out of the leadoff spot, his first time hitting first since last season.
Jacob Felts: Give Felts his due. The freshman may not be the most talented catcher in recent school history, but the past two weeks suggest he just might be the toughest. He had six hits in the eight regional games — impressive for a guy who hovered around the Mendoza Line during the regular season. Even given Felts’ good hitting, his biggest impact in these playoffs has been on defense. No play was bigger than when he held on tight as Arizona State’s Michael Benjamin crashed into him at home plate in game two, blocking the plate and applying a strong tag to prevent a tying run.
Paul Montalbano: After surging in the final half of the regular season, the senior outfielder notched just three hits in eight NCAA postseason games, and his batting average has dipped to .279. Once the five-hole hitter, Montalbano has given way to Jonathan Walsh and is now hitting near the bottom of the order.
Jordan Etier: His three-run long ball in game two against ASU was possibly the biggest at-bat of Texas’ season, widening the Longhorns’ lead from one to four in the ninth inning. It also covered up a disturbing fact. Excluding his 3-for-4, three-RBI game against the Sun Devils, Etier was stuck in Slump City during NCAA postseason play, registering five hits in 25 at-bats and striking out seven times in eight games.