Clemens making leap in junior season

Michael Shapiro

Texas limped to the locker room on March 3 as the Longhorns fell to California 4–1 at UFCU-Disch Falk Field. The Longhorns’ lineup was stifled throughout, mustering just five hits against the Bears pitching. Texas’ bats has been slumbering through the season, with frustration mounting in the dugout. 

But the game had a lone bright spot — junior first baseman Kacy Clemens snuck a home run around the right-field foul pole, giving the Longhorns their lone run of the matchup.

While inconsequential to the final result, the solo shot was impactful to Clemens. It marked his first home run in nearly two years, when Clemens smacked a ball over the fence at Tointon Stadium in Manhattan, Kansas. 

“All I know is [the umpire] called it fair, so it goes down as a home run in my book,” Clemens said. “I felt like I had a good approach at the plate and put a good swing on the ball.”

Clemens’ time in burnt orange has been a tumultuous one. The right-hander has been marred by injuries, with his sophomore season ending a month early due to an elbow injury.

But Clemens is back. 

Clemens was able to complete a full offseason without injury rehab for the first time since high school in 2016. And thirteen games into his junior season, Clemens has driven in nine runs, tied for the top-spot on Texas’ roster.

“It was tough for him not to be in the lineup,” head coach Augie Garrido said. “But he’s been able to come back and play like we think he can.”

In addition to the full offseason, Clemens has another reason for his newfound success; a pair of stylish specs. Clemens began wearing glasses to the plate in late February, helping beset his astigmatism. But Clemens’ has been hesitant to credit the focus of his eyes. Instead, he stresses the newfound focus of his mind.

“This fall was my first to really hit with the coaches,” Clemens said. “We’ve really worked on my approach at the plate and trying to get more consistent.”

 The Longhorns’ struggles to score in 2016 have been well documented. Texas has been shut out twice in thirteen contests, and have averaged just over two runs per game in seven losses. But a 12–3 victory over Sam Houston State on Tuesday has Texas back on track. 

Clemens said he’s confident in the Longhorn’s offensive ability as they head to Los Angeles for a three-game series with UCLA, beginning Friday at 8 p.m.

“We can swing it, it’s just a matter of time,” Clemens said. “You can see how many bats and how many weapons we have to put runs on the board.”