Longhorns look to return to ‘Augie Ball’

Michael Shapiro

Basking in the sun at UFCU Disch–Falk Field on Wednesday, Kacy Clemens posed a question to reporters.

“What even is ‘Augie Ball?’” junior first baseman Clemens asked.

With 47 seasons and five national titles under his belt, head coach Augie Garrido’s philosophy has earned a familiar moniker. The philosophy of “Augie Ball” stems from the old adage of “get him on, get him over, get him in.” And even in an era of moonshot home runs and high-scoring affairs, Garrido still relies on avoiding strikeouts and making contact, often via the bunt.

“It all starts with being able to make contact,” Garrido said. “We’ve been putting the ball in play a lot better, which will allow us to be more aggressive [with] more hit-and-runs, stuff like that.”

Texas underachieved in 2015. Despite a flash-in-the-pan run to win the Big 12 tournament, the season was defined by an inability to score runs. During a stretch from late March to early April, the Longhorns lost seven consecutive games, averaging just two runs per game.

Throughout the year, the Longhorns strayed from Garrido’s philosophy. Texas spent much of the season in a prolonged slump, racking up strikeouts at an alarming rate.

By season’s end, six Texas starters compiled 39 or more strikeouts, and the team’s strikeout percentage reached nearly 22 percent. Sophomore catcher Michael Cantu said these numbers must come down in 2016 if Texas wants to see consistent success at the plate.

“We’ve been working on putting the ball in play more,” Cantu said. “We didn’t do enough of that last year and it contributed to a lot of losses.”

Many on the Longhorns’ roster mentioned the impact of Disch–Falk’s dimensions on the way Texas looks to play. While Texas mashed its way to 41 home runs last year, it failed to produce runs at a consistent level.

The Longhorns ranked second to last in the Big 12 in RBIs and batting average in 2015 and finished second to last in the conference in doubles . Clemens said Texas will need work with Disch’s dimensions, not against it.

“A lot of people don’t understand how big this ballpark plays,” Clemens said. “This plays as big any park in the country. You can’t play the home run ball here, but we’ll try to use it to our advantage.”

With an inexperienced pitching staff and a conference with numerous College World Series contenders, Texas will need to put runs on the board in 2016. In order to do that, the Longhorns plan on returning to a familiar philosophy — back to “Augie Ball.