Longhorns hopeful to finish strong, earn spot in Big 12 Tournament

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Freshman C.J Hinijosa has played well for the struggling Longhorns all season, currently batting .298 which is good enough for third on the team. He has also posted a team-high 25 RBIs with just two series left for the team. 

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

With just two weekend series remaining on their schedule, the Longhorns realize the importance of winning their remaining conference games to earn a spot in the 2013 Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship.  

Three losses against Baylor over the weekend dropped Texas to 5-13 in conference play, good for last place in the Big 12 standings. The top eight teams in the nine-team conference qualify for the Big 12 tournament, and the Longhorns sit just one game behind Texas Tech for the final spot.

“We’re one game out of the tournament, and that’s what we have to play for,” head coach Augie Garrido said. “We’re one game behind. Whether it’s one game behind in first place or one game behind in last place, you’re still one game behind. I know that our players see that we can play with anybody because they have.“

Because Texas Tech won the season series against the Longhorns, the Red Raiders hold the tiebreaker over Texas in the event that the two teams finish with the same record. The Red Raiders have three-game series against Oklahoma State and Baylor remaining, both of which will be played in Lubbock.

Texas could improve its chances of making the tournament with a strong showing at home this weekend against Kansas State, who sits in third place in the conference with a 9-6 record. The first game of the three-game series is scheduled to begin Friday at 6:35 p.m. CT.

The final Big 12 series for the Longhorns will take place in Fort Worth against TCU on May 16-18. Texas sits three games behind the seventh-place Horned Frogs and would have the opportunity to jump them in the standings if the standings remain the same. TCU plays West Virginia on the road on May 10-12 in its final Big 12 series before hosting the Longhorns.

Although they are unhappy with their current place in the standings, the Texas players remain motivated and focused on their final games and fight for a spot in the conference tournament.

“We’re a great team,” junior pitcher Josh Urban said. “Honestly we could be first in the Big 12 right now but we just have to keep battling. I know luck hasn’t gone our way, so we’ll keep battling and hope things turn out the way we want it.”

After failing to qualify for the NCAA tournament last season for the first time in 14 years, the Longhorns are in danger of missing the tournament again this season. Texas would likely need to win the Big 12 tournament to qualify this season.

Despite this, freshman catcher Jeremy Montalbano says his team has no plans of giving up without a fight.

“We’re the University of Texas,” Montalbano said. “We have too much pride to throw in the towel.”