After Texas lost the opener of a home series against lowly Kansas, the Longhorns were six games under .500 and riding a three game losing streak. It looked like the team may be about to pack it in and call it a season. Three games and three wins later, I'm ready to say one thing unequivocally about the 2016 Longhorns: they're no quitters.
Whether that's enough to hurtle them forward into anything like postseason position depends on changing an important part of the narrative of the season, and it starts tonight. Namely, while no one can question the attitude of this team anymore, the fact remains that Texas has done fine against bad competition and not so well against the best.
The one exception to that rule was the conference-opening series win over TCU, which now sits in second place behind Texas Tech by two games--so one way to look at it is that Tech has Texas to thank for its pole position at the moment. Texas, at 7-5 in the league is at fourth place while Tech is an amazing 11-1, 30-10 overall. That, folks, is what an elite team is supposed to do in a weak conference.
So the weekend pits a visiting UT fighting tooth and nail to maintain hope of finishing with a winning record overall and maybe making an argument for an NCAA Tournament bid, against a homesteading Texas Tech looking to get into the conversation for a top-eight National Seed. What a weird sentence. (Incidentally, to the extent this is Augie's last year, I for one would love to see Texas make a run at Tech head man Tim Padlock.)
Tech is one of only four teams in the NCAA to already hit 30 wins and they've done it with fantastic hitting throughout the lineup, and a mix of elite and merely-very-good pitching. Tech is hitting .305 as a team. For some perspective, Texas' leading hitter, Kacy Clemens, is hitting .303. Their team average is higher than Texas' top individual average. I understand batting average is a poor stat, but my word. That is incredible. It helps that Tanner Gardner is hitting .390, but four other hitters are well over .300 as well.
Tonight will be a tough pitching matchup as well, as Texas throws the very capable Morgan Cooper against Tech's undisputed ace--freshman Dais Martin and his 1.68 ERA. The Horns will need to lock down the defense, get a great outing from Cooper, and find ways to score. The disappointing results thus far mean Texas badly needs to take this series, and starting with a win is the formula for that. First pitch tonight is at 6:30 and can be viewed by subscribers on Fox Sports Go. This is your open thread. Hook 'em!