Texas baseball hosts last opponent before facing ranked competition

Emily Barton

Coming off of their second weekend sweep of the season, the Longhorns hope to stay undefeated as they head into their last game of the homestead. Texas’ 8–0 start is the program’s best since 2009 when the Longhorns made it all the way to the College World Series finals. 

On Tuesday, Texas will face a Sam Houston State team that has gotten off to a 5–1 start. The matchup will be the Longhorns’ last game before heading to Houston for the Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic. There, Texas will face three SEC teams, including No. 11 LSU and No. 6 Arkansas.

While it’s easy to look ahead to the bright lights of Minute Maid Park, Texas needs to take care of the Bearkats first. 

“I think this team is very resilient,” redshirt junior infielder Zach Zubia said. “The mental approach of this team is just to keep on grinding. We talked about the process, and that’s a big deal around here. The process is what it’s going to take to win every single game. I think we have to take it one game at a time.”

Texas is no stranger to the Sam Houston State team. This year, the Bearkats are a largely veteran team under the direction of new head coach Jay Sirianni. 

While the Longhorns are off to a great start, Sam Houston State could challenge them. The Bearkat lineup has put up at least four runs in four of its first six games and could pose a test for a Texas pitching staff that has started the season looking like one of the best in the Big 12.

Against Boise State, the Longhorns displayed all of their talent on the mound. This talent, combined with timely hitting from some younger players put into big spots, makes Texas a team with serious depth and potential. 

“The staff is really deep, and I can see us using a lot of talent here,” Texas assistant coach Sean Allen said. “The best pitching staffs in the country use eight to 10 guys, I can see us using 12 to 15. Allowing the younger guys that are part of the bullpen to get in the right situation and build confidence.”

Texas will likely throw several faces on the mound Tuesday, but junior pitcher Bryce Elder will most likely assume his role of “Friday night guy” against LSU. Elder is a part of a group of pitchers who are looking to display their vast improvement from 2019’s late-season meltdown.

“The strike-throwing ability last year wasn’t great,” Allen said. “We were really great early with a bunch of young guys in prominent roles. Once we got to conference play, the ability to command the baseball along with some other things are what flipped our season.”

While the season is still young, Tuesday’s matchup is just another opportunity for Texas to show that this early-season run is not mirroring the trajectory of last season, but is instead a signaling of greater things to come.