The off-season is officially over and opening day is finally upon us. After a tough end to last season, the 2018 campaign could not get here fast enough for coach David Pierce and Texas Longhorns baseball. Texas opens up tonight against a pretty good Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns team that will certainly challenge the new-look Longhorns at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.
The first pitch on Friday is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on the Longhorn Network.
Lafayette is looking to rebound after failing to make a regional last year, just a season removed from 43 wins in 2016. They should have more experience this year and like Texas, should be a more balanced group. The Ragin’ Cajuns dominated the ‘Horns last season 8-1 in a midweek game. This series should definitely be more competitive as these two teams seem pretty evenly matched on paper.
Texas ace Nolan Kingham gets the nod in Game 1 tonight as he will face sophomore right-hander Jack Burk. Look for the Horns to be aggressive early against Burk, who only has 40.1 total innings under his belt at the collegiate level.
Junior Chase Shugart will get the ball in the second game as he gets a shot at the rotation after spending his first two seasons in the bullpen for Texas.
Sophomore Blair Henley will be your Sunday starter, which very well could be your series-deciding game. The Ragin’ Cajuns will call on their most experienced starter on Sunday in junior southpaw Hogan Harris. Harris posted a 2.66 ERA and racked up 87 strikeouts in 12 starts last season.
Pierce will bring a very new and fresh lineup into the new season and I am expecting to see more power and overall athleticism from this team. The newcomers I’m most excited about are redshirt freshman Zach Zubia and JUCO transfers Masen Hibbeler and Duke Ellis. Kody Clemens will look to take things to the next level offensively as he steps into a leadership role for the team.
My prediction: Texas wins the series 2-1 and avenges last season’s loss to UL-Lafayette. I think the Horns come out strong and will get great performances from Kingham and this pitching staff. We should see the Longhorns put up some runs in this opening series which is something they struggled to do all of last season.
Get out to the Disch and get loud. Hook ‘Em.