With backs to the wall, Horns plan to lead with experience

Jon Parrett

Texas isn’t new to facing elimination this postseason, but the College World Series bracket format does afford the Longhorns with something they haven’t had their previous tournaments — a day off between games.

“I like the day off between elimination games because we get to come out here in practice and kind of forget about things and have some fun,” said junior Brandon Loy. “Y’all probably can’t tell we got beat by the way we acted during practice.”

Loy said that the Longhorns’ will to win is what makes them so dangerous when facing elimination, and their experiences this postseason provide an advantage other teams don’t have.

“This team doesn’t want to go home,” Loy said. “I’m not going to say it’s going to be easy but it’s a situation we’ve put ourselves in all postseason and we’ve battled our way out of them, and that’s what we’ve got to do again. It’s going to be tough but we’re going to give it our best shot.”

Tinkerbell in the bullpen

The Longhorn bullpen has a strange freshman tradition that some might find humiliating, but it’s a tradition closer Corey Knebel has learned to embrace.

“I have a weird windup, I throw weird and all I throw is fastballs — it’s weird,” Knebel said. “And I got a pink and purple backpack. It’s weird too.”

Freshman pitchers have carried a pink and purple Tinkerbell backpack out to the bullpen the entire season. Assistant strength and conditioning coach Lance Sewell started the tradition years ago by choosing a freshman that doesn’t care what fans or anyone else thinks.

Knebel and fellow freshman reliever Nathan Thornhill trade off wearing the backpack, and have developed a rotation similar to their pitching duties on the team.

“She’s Tinkerbell and I don’t care what anyone thinks,” Knebel said. “Right now, Nathan’s been taking care of her for whenever I’m pitching and he’s in the bullpen. We pretty much call it our baby.”