Murphy Stehly will be cornerstone player during weekend matchup against No. 23 TCU

Jordan Mitchell, Sports Reporter

Editor’s Note: The article first appeared in the April 8, 2022 flipbook.

Redshirt senior Tristan Stevens remembers the last time TCU played Texas baseball at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. 

Back in 2018, the Horned Frogs made the trip down to Austin for the final weekend of regular season play against the Longhorns. 

Texas clinched the Big 12 Championship title for the first time since 2011 with its sweep of TCU.

“(It) was the weekend Kody Clemens made a name for himself. He hit that go-ahead home run to right-center,” Stevens said. “It’s gonna be exciting (with the) sold-out crowds again.”

In 2018, Clemens hit .351 on the season, with 24 home runs, 72 RBI and a fielding percentage of .983 at second base, earning him Big 12 Player of the Year and First-Team All-American honors. 

Head coach David Pierce compares redshirt senior Murphy Stehly to Clemens. This season, Stehly has the fourth highest batting average in the nation with a .456, ranks second in total bases with 99 and leads the nation with 57 hits.

Like Clemens, Stehly worked hard before emerging as one of the premier hitters of the program. Recruited as a utility man that could play any infield position, the current right fielder has primarily served as the “10th man” on the team during his time at Texas.

“In Kody’s first two years, he (was batting) a .240 to .245 average,” Pierce said. “(He had) two years of just working and getting better, and then it clicked for him and he turned into (the Big 12) Player of the Year.”

However, Stehly earned his spot in the lineup with his defensive versatility and strong hitting. More than halfway through the season, Stehly is on the midseason watch list for USA Baseball’s annual Golden Spikes Award, alongside redshirt sophomore Pete Hansen and redshirt junior Ivan Melendez. The Golden Spikes Award honors the top collegiate baseball player in the country every year.

“He’s the hardest worker I’ve ever seen,” Stevens said. “For him to be putting up the numbers he (is), it just goes to show the work he’s putting in behind the scenes.”

For Pierce, he will need Stehly’s help to get the offense going against No. 23 TCU. Despite having a “hit or miss” pitching rotation, the Horned Frogs are a scrappy team that finds ways to win games. With ace pitcher Riley Cornelio and reliever Luke Savage’s command of the zone, TCU should play a competitive weekend of baseball.

“Riley Cornelio always gives (TCU) a chance to win,” said Charles Baggarly, a TCU 360 baseball reporter. “(And in Savage’s) first two outings, he gave up three combined total runs, but since then, he has not given up a single run.”

TCU is also a squad that will throw Texas’ pitchers into jams. The Horned Frogs are second in the Big 12 and fourth nationally with 190 walks, while boasting an on-base percentage of .396.

“I think the biggest thing for us against their offense is to pound the strike zone. I like Pete (Hansen) and Tristan (Stevens) in those roles,” Pierce said. 

With Saturday and Sunday’s games already sold out, Stevens is excited to play a good team in front of a big crowd back at home.

“I feel like we haven’t played at the Disch much,” Stevens said. “We are definitely looking forward to this weekend.”