Texas’ nonconference opponents will continue to be challenges

Emily Barton

In their last few games, the Longhorns have been strong across the board. From the pitching staff stepping up and saving each other to batters putting together runs of hot hitting and big innings, this team is coming together on both sides. However, Texas has also seen challenges that could simply be attributed to the youth of the team and the uncertainty surrounding players’ strengths.

Certain players have clinched their spots, such as junior Bryce Elder as the Friday night pitcher and redshirt junior Zach Zubia as the everyday first base. There is still a revolving door at second base as everyone gets their chance to show what they can do. 

“I like (redshirt junior infielder Cam Williams) at second more so than (freshman pitcher Andre Duplantier II) if we have the option, but I thought (junior infielder Murphy) Stehly played well the other day,” Texas head coach David Pierce said. “He had a couple of good at-bats, so he’s going to have an opportunity. (Freshman infielder Brenden) Dixon and (sophomore infielder Lance) Ford are certainly not out of the mix, but it’s Stehly’s turn to at least have an opportunity to see what he can do.”

Every game lately has been a chance for Texas to sort out young players at several positions. It is in these weeks of nonconference games that we have been seeing different innings bringing out a plethora of players from the bullpen to fill the field.

“I feel extremely confident in all of our guys, similar to how the team has been playing as a whole,” Duplantier said. “I don’t feel like, as a staff, we’re pitching to the best of our abilities right now. So with our work and what we’re doing in practice and what we’re going to be doing going forward, it’s going to turn around.”

It just takes one play to set things in motion for Texas. Lately, the highlight or turning point in the games has been the Longhorns’ ability to rally hard. Even in games when the Texas bats aren’t hot, all it’s taken is one inning to turn things around. The ability to put together big rallies has led the charge offensively for the 13–3 Longhorns.

Wednesday should be no different. The Wildcats are 7–7 on the season, with almost all of their games being very decisive on one side or the other. While able to get out ahead of some opponents, they have yet to rally or come back from a large deficit in a game this season. 

Texas could take care of the Wildcats, and if they do, it would continue the win streak before the final nonconference series against New Mexico this weekend. Following the series with the Lobos, Texas has two individual matchups before going into conference play. As it stands, Texas trails only the Red Raiders in the standings — making this weekend a pivotal stretch to begin Big 12 play on the right foot.