Leading the country in hitting, Murphy Stehly sets the tone for Texas’ offense

Jordan Mitchell, Sports Reporter

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the April 12, 2022 flipbook.

On March 18, redshirt senior Murphy Stehly hit six RBIs and a home run, securing a 19-2 victory over Incarnate Word. Two days later, Stehly returned with another three home runs in a single game for the first time in his career.

The series was a turning point for Stehly, but he didn’t bask in his big weekend. 

“It’s been a confidence builder,” Stehly said. “But like I said … you can’t let the moment get too big.” 

Batting at .438 with ten home runs on the season, Stehly is a cool customer at the plate, seemingly unfazed by full counts or two-out pressure. The current right fielder has recorded a hit in the previous 18 games and leads the NCAA in hits.

Stehly’s roommate and teammate, redshirt senior Tristan Stevens, said Stehly has a similar demeanor in the confines of their apartment. 

“He’s a very simple guy,” Stevens said. “As calm and collected as he is at the plate, that is basically how he is off the field, too. I can basically tell you what he is going to be doing every day.”

Stehly and Stevens have the typical student-athlete schedule: They wake up, go to class, practice and watch film together. After games, the duo will sit down for a meal and maybe watch a little TV.

While being simple and soft spoken, Stevens admires Stehly’s work ethic, seeing him as one of the hardest workers on the team. The roommates have both had rocky paths to earning their stripes and becoming starters on a talented Texas baseball roster.

“We have similar stories of how we ended up in the position we are now,” Stevens said. “I’ll never forget when he said that when he is put in the lineup this year, he’s never being taken out, and he’s lived up to that. Every single bit. He’s earned it.”

Stehly came to head coach David Pierce’s baseball program in June 2019 from Orange Coast College, a community college just under an hour drive from his hometown of Carlsbad, California. 

On January 26, 2020, about six months after pledging to Texas baseball, the world received news of the Calabasas helicopter crash that killed former NBA all star Kobe Bryant and eight others, including his former Orange Coast College coach, John “Alto” Altobelli.

While both Stehly and Pierce were close to Alto, they both hit the practice field that day.

“We connected and bonded through that. It was tough for both of us,” Stehly said. “(Alto) would want for us to go play for him, and bring it every day. That’s what he was all about.”

In his first two seasons playing for Texas, Stehly was regarded as the “tenth man,” coming off the bench to replace anyone on defense or in the batting lineup. 

Coming into 2022, Stehly wanted to have a permanent place as a starter. Halfway through the season, Stehly emerged as a fan favorite and cornerstone player on both sides of the ball.

“He’s an older player that really allows younger players to realize where he was when he came in,” Pierce said. “The success he’s had is because of his work and his routines.”

Before the 2020 season, Stehly switched his jersey number  to No. 14 in Alto’s honor, and acknowledges Alto as one of the reasons behind his offensive prowess this year.

“It’s a big part of (success is) to be able to play for someone bigger than just yourself,” Stehly said. “I think that’s a big reason (for) my success, playing for my family and Coach Alto. He meant a lot to me coming here.”