First things first: Texas beat West Virginia 9-4 on Sunday to end the season 34-20 and 11-12 in Big 12 play. The Horns will be the 6 seed in this week’s Big 12 tournament and will face Oklahoma on Wednesday.
It was senior day in Austin and the team’s seniors delivered. Kacy Clemens hit a first inning grand slam, Zane Gurwitz drove in three more on a pair of doubles, and possibly MLB bound junior Kyle Johnston pitched strongly. All in all it was a successful first season in Austin for David Pierce whose team should be a 2 or 3 seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament. The Horns should be a tough out wherever they’re sent with three strong starting pitchers and a lineup that occasionally produces.
Texas finished the season 7-15 in one run or extra inning games including some heart-breakers to their toughest competition. The roster could see quite a bit of turnover next season but will return at least their Friday starter, closer, and a bunch of position players.
Let’s talk about some of that turnover and appreciate the journey of one player from also-ran freshman to indispensable legend as a senior. That player, of course, is Kacy Clemens.
Kacy hit the 40 Acres as the first of Roger’s kids to play ball here. As a freshman Clemens started 63 out of the team’s 67 games almost all at first base. He was a solid defender but hit a measly .212 with one homer and an OPS under .600. Things got worse as a sophomore as he battled injuries to the tune of a .204 batting and slugging percentage in just 30 games.
Clemens became a solid all around ballplayer as a junior hitting .303 with an OPS of .888, 5 homers and 20 extra base hits in 185 ABs. And as a senior Clemens has shown himself to be the heart and soul of Pierce’s squad. Clemens has hit .304 with 8 homers and a .927 OPS. These last two seasons he has started 105 out of 110 possible games and played in 109 of 110.
But it’s not just the statistics, it’s the plays Clemens has made that have endeared him to fans these last two years. Today’s grand slam set the tone for the Texas victory and was his second of 2017 with the other coming against hated rival Oklahoma. A Clemens homer in extra innings prevented the Horns from being swept by Baylor, and then there was the defensive play he made on a Texas A&M bunt to prevent the Aggies from tying the game and keeping alive a Texas win earlier this season.
Kacy Clemens came onto campus as Roger’s son and will leave campus as a Longhorn Legend. He probably won’t go down as a champion like Huston Street, Seth Russell or his father, but he has certainly proved to be a bright spot in the rebuilding of this program.
So kudos to Kacy, Zane, Jon Malmin, and any of the juniors who may have been playing at the Disch for the last time. They go out winners at home and now get a chance to make a run at Omaha.
The Horns will take on Oklahoma Wednesday night at 7:30 PM. Game will be on Fox Sports something or other.