Cool, calm, collected: How Pete Hansen stays measured during high-pressure situations on the mound

Hunter Dworaczyk, Sports Reporter

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in the June 7, 2022 flipbook.

For Texas ace Pete Hansen, his cool demeanor on the mound is scientific.

The third-year lefty has a high heart rate variability, meaning there is a noticeable variance of time between his heartbeats. In a media availability ahead of the Austin Regional, Hansen said his HRV is about 160 milliseconds, well above the average for most people.

His high HRV means his heart can rebound from stressors quickly, and as a result, Hansen feels more comfortable than most pitchers might in high-pressure situations, making him naturally more resilient to stressful scenarios on the mound as a starting pitcher. Hansen has showcased his ability to thrive under these conditions.

“I love the pressure moments,” Hansen said. “When the game’s on the line, those are my favorite pitches to make.”

As the Friday night guy for Texas, Hansen is dealt the task of outperforming the opposing team’s best pitcher on a weekly basis. In a sport in which success depends on the results of a three-game series, winning the opening game goes a long way over the course of a season.

Although 2022 is Hansen’s first season as the Longhorns’ ace, he’s looked comfortable in the role. The redshirt sophomore sits at a 3.08 ERA, has thrown 112 strikeouts to 18 walks and sports an impressive 11–1 record.

“Once you step over those lines, it’s a different animal,” Hansen said. “ Once I step onto the mound, it’s go time. I pride myself as a competitor.” 

Texas was predicted to have one of the best starting rotations in the country coming into the season, something that would have given the Longhorns a strong chance to recover and clinch a series if Hansen didn’t have his best outing. But when fellow starter Tanner Witt suffered a season-ending UCL injury in March and Tristan Stevens was eventually sent into the bullpen, Texas no longer had that luxury.