Texas fell three games behind Oklahoma State in the Big 12 after two losses this weekend, but its lack of runs was the bigger story.
The Longhorns (32-13, 10-8 Big 12) came into last weekend fully aware that the series with the Cowboys could determine a Big 12 champion. But, after scoring just seven runs to 10 for the Cowboys, Texas has to wonder when its consistency will return.
“They are not quitting,” head coach Augie Garrido said. “They are not getting frustrated, not getting their heads down. Their body language is right, and they are showing their mental toughness. Yes, it is tough, but that is how this game goes, and you come out the other side a better team as a result of it, fighting your way through it.”
It’s true that the Longhorns have battled through minor adversity all season, particularly after being swept by TCU a few weekends ago, but their bats continued to disappear even when their pitchers keep them in the game.
Excepting Game 3 of the Oklahoma State series, Texas has not allowed more than three runs in its last four losses in conference play. But the Longhorns have only managed to score five total runs in their last five Big 12 losses.
Senior center fielder Mark Payton, who still easily leads the team with a .342 batting average, has to step up and produce more at the plate to help the Longhorns’ lack of consistency. Payton has recorded just seven hits in his last seven games, which won’t be enough if Texas wants to finish the season strong.
The pitchers of Texas’ Tuesday night opponent, Prairie View A&M (18-23), have combined for a 4.95 ERA this season while allowing just under six runs per game. The Texas offense is averaging about 4.5 runs per game, despite its inconsistency lately, which should make this essentially a tune-up game for the Longhorns.
Despite being nicked a bit Sunday, allowing eight runs and 10 hits to the Cowboys, the Longhorn pitching staff still holds a conference best 2.21 ERA. The Panthers’ offense should be able to challenge the staff, however, boasting a combined .267 average with four plays hitting over .300.
With just two conference series following Tuesday’s matchup, the Longhorns will have to establish some kind of momentum if they hope to be competitive in the Big 12 Tournament.
Like the last few Tuesday night games, this one should tell a lot about the mindset of the Longhorns moving forward.