Longhorns look to continue momentum from weekend

Michael Shapiro

Despite dropping the finale of a three-game set with Kansas State on Sunday, the Longhorns (14–18, 5–4 Big 12) were still upbeat as they made their way back to Austin. Texas took the series after winning the first two matchups on Friday and Saturday, playing more like a team with conference title aspirations than one near the cellar of the Big 12.

But taking two of three from the Wildcats was far from a monumental task. Kansas State came into the series winless in the conference, having lost 11 of the last 13 games they played. But this iteration of Texas baseball isn’t looking to rip off win streaks; it’s simply looking to get back on track.

The weekend series marked the Longhorns’ third series win of the year, and since defeating Texas State on March 1, the Longhorns have lost 15 of their last 24 games. While the trip to Kansas State wasn’t a referendum on Texas’ ability to compete for a Big 12 title, it was certainly a step in the right direction.

Following the successful weekend away from Austin, the Longhorns will take to the road again on Tuesday, facing off against Houston at Constellation Field in Sugar Land. But despite the proximity to Houston, the Longhorns will be the home team. 

The Cougars look to provide a more difficult battle than Kansas State. Houston currently sits at 19–12 on the year, with wins over then-No. 23 Alabama and then-No. 19 East Carolina.

Fueling Houston this season is freshman catcher Joe Davis. Davis, who hails from Bowie High School in Austin, has been one of the premier freshman in the country in 2016, bashing seven home runs in addition to 32 RBIs. His prowess at the plate earned him American Conference Player of the Week on April 10 in addition to a spot on the 2016 College Classic All-Tournament Team. 

But Davis’ bat alone hasn’t been enough to power Houston’s offense in the past four games. The Cougars have averaged just 1.5 runs per game in that span, good news for a Texas pitching staff that has struggled in its past two Tuesday night contests. The Longhorns used seven pitchers in their 5-0 loss to Texas A&M Corpus Christi on April 5, with no pitcher going longer than two and one third innings. They’ll need more consistent pitching against a Cougars offense that ranks tied for third in the American conference in home runs. Texas couldn’t complete the sweep against Kansas State but moved forward in its climb back to a winning record. That climb will continue on Tuesday as the Longhorns look to win a matchup with Houston.