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Baseball Struggles Continue, But Softball Team is Great

Texas baseball went to Lawrence and, once again, lost a Big 12 series 2-1. The time has come for Texas to focus on getting better, making the Big 12 Tournament, and trying to steal the conference's automatic bid.

Heads up, Texas fans: your Longhorn softball team is awesome.
Heads up, Texas fans: your Longhorn softball team is awesome.

Another weekend, another winnable series lost for the Longhorn baseball team. The disastrous performance in Lawrence was a microcosm of what we've been saying all season about this squad: they just can't seem to put together complete performances. Ever.

Friday, the bats did their job early but errors and pitching mistakes let Kansas back into the game, eventually leading to a 7-6 KU win in extra innings. Dillon Peters remains the one consistent bright spot, picking up the Saturday win by a 2-1 score. But Sunday, against the third starter of a perenially bottom-tier baseball program, Texas scratched only three runs (albeit on 10 hits). A pair of sixth-inning errors allowed KU's fourth, final, and winning run to cross the plate in a 4-3 win for the homestanding Jayhawks. In other words: still no complete performances in conference play. The last two weekends, even the wins have been one-man shows with Peters gutting out the victories essentially on his own.

You can look at the weekend two ways. The optimist says Texas was only outscored by a total of one run in a three-game set, and anytime you lose a pair of one-run games it could easily have been a sweep in your favor instead. The pessimist--or, we would argue, the realist--says Texas would be 0-6 in their last six conference games if not for the heroics of Peters, and ultimately this team has no idea how to play consistent baseball. Whichever.

SO: What's the big-picture outlook for Texas? West Virginia comes to Austin this weekend ahead of the Longhorns in the Big 12 standings by 1.5 games. If the season ended today, Texas would have the dubious honor of being the only team left out of the Big 12 Tournament--now that only nine schools in the conference have baseball teams, only the last-place regular season team misses out on Oklahoma City. To have any shot whatsoever at an at-large bid, we now believe Texas must: sweep WVU this weekend; sweep Baylor in Waco the following weekend; take two of three from Kansas State after that; and sweep TCU to finish the season, all while losing not more than one mid-week game. More realistically, Texas needs to climb out of the conference cellar so as to make the Big 12 Tournament, and find a way to get things clicking so as to make a run through OKC and win the thing, grabbing the Big 12 automatic bid. Otherwise, the completely unacceptable result of Texas missing the NCAA Tournament two years in a row looms on the horizon.

But the news is not all grim in Austin. Next time you drive over I-35 to get to the Disch, consider popping instead into Red & Charlene McCombs Field and watch your sixth-ranked Longhorn softball team. They're playing great ball, and host the top-ranked Sooners this weekend in a huge series. The Longhorns currently sit at 38-4, 8-0 in the conference. Unlike the last time Texas softball was on casual fans' collective radar, there's no Cat Osterman-like pitching phenom this year. The 2013 team prefers to pound opponents into submission--including a 14-run sixth inning in Lawrence last month, which if you're counting is three more runs than the men managed in all three games against KU. So while the men are just trying to play their way into Oklahoma City for the Big 12 Tournament, the ladies have their sights set on the same city later in the summer. There's a great chance we'll all be able to enjoy watching Texas in the College World Series this year--just not the one in Omaha. Hook 'em ladies.

Meanwhile, the Texas baseball team welcomes UT Pan Am to the Disch tonight at 6 PM on the Longhorn Network. Returning to the bullpen is briefly-suspended closer Corey Knebel (h/t schoolly_d). This is your open thread.