Longhorns host seventh-ranked Stanford for pivotal four-game series

Travis Hlavinka

It’s another week and another formidable opponent on the Texas baseball schedule. Thursday night, No. 7 Stanford comes to Austin for a four-game series with No. 23 Texas at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.

Stanford might be the Longhorns’ toughest test of the season thus far. The Cardinals make the trip from Palo Alto, California, boasting an 11–1 record. Texas (8–4) rides a three-game winning streak into Thursday night’s series opener, which begins at 6:30 p.m.

Texas head coach David Pierce believes the Longhorns just have to continue playing like they have been.

“I hope (our) approach stays the same,” Pierce said. “We still have to get quality at-bats and good pitches to hit. You have a little less time to make your decisions. But (Stanford is) very good on the mound, and we know that. I’d like our guys to compete the way they did against Northwestern.”

Pierce knows where the Cardinals do a majority of their damage and that lies in the hands of Stanford’s terrific starting pitching staff. Pierce said Stanford has at least one future first-round draft pick.

“Their starting pitching is as good as anybody in the country,” Pierce said. “Their first three are really tough. But I think for us, it’s about us. It’s about us playing solid defense and not trying to match their (velocities) or their breaking balls, but to be ourselves. It’s going to be an interesting match-up.”

Texas’ players understand what seeing a pitching staff like Stanford’s entails. Redshirt senior utility player Jake McKenzie said that what you see from Stanford this weekend will be a major contrast to the Northwestern team that Texas beat three out of four times last weekend in Austin.

“It’ll definitely be a test — a lot different from Northwestern,” McKenzie said. “We expect them to come in, not make as many mistakes as we saw (last) weekend. We’re going to have to take advantage of the mistakes they do make and try to capitalize on those.”

Junior infielder Kody Clemens said the team is excited about having the chance to show what they can do against one of the best teams in the country. For the Longhorns, it’s about seeing where they are as a team as the start to the conference schedule nears.

“I think we need to see what we can do with these types of teams,” Clemens said. “(We need to) see what we can put out on the field against this amazing competition. Obviously that will work out for us in the future. It’ll be a test for us, but we’re looking forward to it.”

Though it is a tough road ahead, Clemens and the Longhorns believe that the best Texas has to offer is yet to be seen.

“I think that the pitching, defense and offense (haven’t) all meshed in one game together,” Clemens said. “I think that we’re all good in every standpoint. But once we mesh it all together, I think we’ll be unstoppable.”