OK team. Here's the deal: yes, Texas has just laid a giant egg in the Big XII Tournament. Yes, a guaranteed 1-3 national seed has likely become somewhere in the 5-8 range. Yes, indeed: Texas lost in Oklahoma City through an uncharacteristic mix of errors and subpar pitching performances, and the offense failed to really make a run at bailing either of those problems out. Hey, we get it. These are all legitimate reasons to be concerned. But there are better reasons not to worry too much about it.:
- When you have a season like the Longhorns had, the conference tournament is little more than lagniappe. For proof, we direct you to Birmingham and the SEC Tournament. LSU limped into the postseason, having fallen from grace all the way to barely making the conference tourney. As the eight (i.e., bottom) seed, the Tigers rattled off three straight wins against teams that were guaranteed NCAA Tournament berths. They'll face Alabama in the championship game tomorrow--that would be seventh-seeded Alabama, which had a similar run through the field. The point is, both of those teams really needed to win in order to cement places in regionals, whereas their opponents didn't need it. Extrapolate as necessary for the happenings in OKC.
- Eighteen-to-22-year-old ballplayers are going to make errors. The idea that the Texas defense is a model of perfection was based on their stellar performance and fans can be forgiven for believing it to be true. But baseball gloves are not magic, and errors are just going to happen. Remember: the Longhorns get to play every game between now and Omaha at the Disch, where they are used to the true hops of the field turf.
- PItching, too, is not perfect and cannot be consistently awesome. Jungmann, Green, and Workman remain the best starting rotation in college baseball, and Chance Ruffin remains the game's top closer. Do not lose faith based on three games that Texas did not need to win.
- Bats got shy this week, no question about it. But let's not have such short memories: less than a week ago, this same offense exploded for 20 runs at Columbia. Keep in mind that last season, Texas had very few homeruns during the regular season before exploding in the NCAA Tournament--including a prodigious clout in Omaha. It's been a long, long time since these Longhorns played a game with anything meaningful on the line. There's no reason not to believe that they'll return to excellence next week once it matters.