Consistency from the pitching staff continues to plague the Horns. Since we last checked in on the baseball team, they rolled off four straight wins, including a sweep of Villanova, before dropping two of three this past weekend to UNLV.
Our last report focused on the subpar slugging and on-base percentages of the Horns hitters. We noted that if the early rates didn't improve, this team would be in trouble. Well, the bats have improved, but the pitching continues to struggle. Particularly, on the road. After the Horns completely subdued Villanova's bats, they got lit up in sunny Las Vegas, allowing 28(!) runs in the three game set.
The good news, though, as we mentioned, is that the bats are coming alive. Of particular note has been the recent thumping done by freshman Kyle Russell. In 35 at bats, he now leads the Horns in Batting Average (.457) and Slugging Percentage (.829), while being second in On-Base Percentage (.553).
Less surprisingly, Drew Stubbs continues to mash. But with 19 strikeouts in just 64 at-bats, some are starting to wonder about his ability to play at the next level. No matter for now, as he's a fine collegiate hitter. Still, you'd like to see Stubbs improve his contact rate. Strikeouts are not the huge concern that some people make them out to be, but in Stubbs case, the rate is a little alarming.
As for the pitchers, I'm still not as worried as some may be at this point. For one thing, the Horns worst outings have come on the road. The Horns still sit at 6-0 at the Disch, which is nice. And the backtracking done by the young pitchers seems to me like an early season aberration. If we get in to April and things haven't improved, it will be time to worry.
The Horns get five more games out of conference (Rice, 1; Long Beach State, 3; and Arizona State, 1) before opening conference play in mid-March against Texas Tech. At 10-8, Texas isn't setting any team records at this point, but there's plenty of talent and conference play has yet to begin. The Big 12 won't be much kinder to the Horns, though, so the pitchers need to find their groove quickly.