Last year, the Texas Longhorns’ baseball schedule was considered one of the toughest in the league. This year should be no different, as Texas faces off against a variety of high-profile schools during the non-conference schedule, including Stanford, UCLA, Cal, and Tulane.
However, Texas will begin its season at home on February 19th against what should be one of the easier non-conference match-ups. The ‘Horns will have a three-game series against UNLV, which had a tumultuous 25-31 season in 2015, which included a seven game losing streak as well as the mid-season resignation of head coach Tim Chambers after a DUI.
The next test could prove to be tougher, as Texas will host Stanford for four games at the Disch. Stanford struggled immensely last season (22-31, 7-20 Pac 12). You could attribute some of their 2015 woes to bad luck -- the Cardinals lost not only their three starting pitchers to serious injury, but also their star third basemen Mikey Diekroeger (who will be back this year). Despite Stanford’s misfortune, the Longhorns only managed to split their four game series with the Cardinal last season in Palo Alto. This year will be a greater challenge, as Stanford returns most of their roster and will be hungry for a comeback season.
Stanford won’t be the last taste of California. Shortly after hosting the Cardinal, Texas will have the daunting task of hosting a four-game series with No. 10 Cal. Only a few years ago, Cal baseball was supposed to be removed from varsity status. Now, the team is coming off a third-place finish in the Pac-12 and a regional championship run. Their experienced roster should be in line for only more success. One of Cal’s 11 seniors is outfielder Devin Pearson, who batted .355 last season and will be an impact player. However, a huge blow for the Golden Bears is losing two-way star Lucas Erceg (.303 batting average, 11 home runs) to transfer due to academic ineligibility.
Five days after the Golden Bears come to Austin, the ‘Horns will head to Los Angeles to play No. 9 UCLA. UCLA lost some key pieces from their 41- win season last year, but nothing debilitating enough to offset their young talent. Their leading hitter, Luke Persico, will be back and their bullpen should be strong despite losing closer David Berg (.68 ERA) to graduation/the draft.
Texas’ last full-fledged non-conference series will be at home against a true "baseball school" -- Tulane. In 2015, the Green Wave returned to the NCAA tournament after a seven-year drought. Like the Longhorns, Tulane loves to play small ball. They return junior shortstop Stephen Alemais, who stole 27 bases his sophomore season and batted above .300. On the pitching side of things, Tulane has a habit of shutting other teams out, which they did eight times last year. Though the New Orleans squad flies under the radar as a team outside of the top 25, this could be one of Texas’ most challenging tests. The ‘Horns may need to get their bats going to come out on top of the three game series.
Texas will also play a plethora of one-game match-ups against in-state opponents in the non-conference portion during mid-week games. The list includes small schools (Prairie View A&M, UT Rio Grande Valley, Sam Houston State) as well as big-time programs (No. 4 Texas A&M, No. 22 Houston). Unfortunately, the games against the Aggies and Cougars will both be away.
You can view Texas' schedule in its entirety here.