Freshmen bring excitement as Texas baseball opens season Tuesday

Nathan Han

Even though it’s the first home game, players have already felt love from fans. The Longhorn faithful came out in droves on the road for the season opener at Reckling Park in Houston and watched as Texas swept Rice to start off the season 3–0, making it the first season opening series sweep since 2009.

“The University of Texas travels well, and it was apparent here all weekend,” said Zach Zubia, a redshirt junior first baseman, in a postgame interview on The Horn. “With burnt orange in the stands all weekend and just being out here with the new team and new faces, it meant a lot.”

Those new and exciting faces on the team, including freshman pitcher Andre Duplantier II, drew heavy praise from head coach David Pierce.

Pierce said the Humble, Texas, native had “ice in his veins” after he worked his way out of a bases-loaded jam Sunday.

Pierce also praised freshman shortstop Trey Faltine, who hit 3-of-11 with a homer and three RBIs, for his relay throw to catch a runner headed for home in Saturday’s game.

“What I liked about that play is that I think Trey had a good clock,” Pierce said. “He realized that he didn’t have a good grip, but he knew he had time and really controlled himself there to make a throw. That’s what’s been outstanding with (assistant coach Troy) Tulo(witzki). The youngsters up the middle are really learning from one of the best. A lot of guys will panic there when they don’t have a good grip. Trey maintained his composure and got a good grip before throwing a strike.”

It’s all part of a group of newcomers, including freshmen second baseman Brenden Dixon and designated hitter Douglas Hodo III, that has sparked excitement in both the team and this Longhorn fan base.

“Trey is a personality,” Zubia said. “And I think that’s what makes him good. If you take his personality away from him, he’s not going to be any good. If you let him be himself, he’s going to be great.”

Freshman pitcher Pete Hansen is another newcomer that fans might have the opportunity to see in action soon. Pierce mentioned his name in the starting pitching conversation for Tuesday, and Hansen pitched two scoreless innings in his Texas debut Saturday.

Sophomore pitcher Kolby Kubichek, recovering from a minor ankle sprain, was the other starting pitching option mentioned.

By next week, Longhorn fans will certainly be well-acquainted with all of the freshmen. After Tuesday’s home opener against UTSA, Texas will play Lamar on Wednesday and Boise State in a three-game weekend series before finishing their home stretch next Tuesday against Sam Houston State.

Despite being at home, the upcoming stretch will still be a test. But Texas has utmost confidence in its ability to handle the upcoming schedule and bring it every game.

“I think they love to compete,” Pierce said. “I think they’re passionate. I think they brought energy every single day. For a young group, they’re pretty mature.”