If this weekend taught us anything about the 2009 Texas baseball team, it's that the Longhorns must steer clear of the state of Kansas if they want to have any shot at making a decent run in the postseason. On that note, we are officially making a plea to the NCAA Selection Committee: assuming that Texas gathers itself enough to host at least a sub-regional, please keep Wichita State away from it. The state of Kansas has officially pounded us into submission, and we are happy to cry "uncle" if it means we don't have to face the black-and-gold menace from Wichita.
Be afraid. Be very afraid.
It was a really, really bad week for Texas following a really, really good stretch. The Longhorns had won 10 contests in a row before falling to Rice on Tuesday and then getting semi-swept by Kansas State in Austin. Losing two games in one weekend on your home field can be a killer for a team seeking a conference title; failing to win the third makes it even worse. Texas and K-State engaged in some sister-kissing on Sunday, a 6-6 tie brought on by the Wildcats' flight plans.
The 4-2 Friday score and 5-4 Saturday score would seem to indicate that this team was up to its old bad habits--pitching and defense good enough to win the ballgame, but foiled by inept offensive performance. On balance, that's a roughly accurate description of what happened this weekend but with a caveat: unlike earlier games with offensive struggles, in these games Texas actually hit the ball reasonably well. The 'Horns had eight hits on Friday, 15 hits on Saturday, and 13 hits on Sunday. So the issue this weekend wasn't an inability to hit the baseball; the issue was a complete lack of offensive efficiency.
Texas actually out-hit Kansas State in the final two games of the series. Texas left eight men on base Friday, 13 on Saturday, and 10 on Sunday. Pitching and defense remained good enough to win--the Longhorn hitters simply could not pick ducks off the pond with any regularity.
What does this mean? There were certainly more reasons for optimism this weekend than there were in the sweep at KU. In this case, Texas simply got hits at the wrong times; in Lawrence, they couldn't get enough hits at all.
Thankfully, the Longhorns return to playing opponents from the Other Forty-Nine states against whom they have had far more success. Texas State comes to town tomorrow night, followed by a crucial three-game set against Baylor next weekend--Friday in Austin, Saturday and Sunday in