Now comes the time for reflection and improvement.
The 2019 season ended early for the Texas Longhorns on Friday in the first game of a doubleheader against the Oklahoma Sooners clinched a last-place finish in the Big 12, but head coach David Pierce’s team did bounce back in the evening with a 6-4 victory at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.
Following the program’s worst-ever loss to the Sooners, a 13-0 defeat in seven innings, the Longhorns showed some pride and competitiveness early on to start the season’s final game.
In the first inning, freshman Eric Kennedy led off with a walk and junior Duke Ellis followed with a double to put runners on second and third before Oklahoma even recorded an out. Freshman Lance Ford and sophomore Zach Zubia each knocked in a run, with Ford grounding out and Zubia hitting a sacrifice fly.
With freshman Ty Madden pitching well through the first three innings, the Horns kept the pressure on — senior Masen Hibbeler hit his final home run in burnt orange and white in the second inning, a solo shot, and junior Ryan Reynolds boomed a two-run blast in the third.
After Oklahoma drove Madden from the game with two runs in the fourth, Texas responded with its final run of the game after Ford once again grounded to drive home Kennedy after he singled and Ellis singled.
Unlike so previous games, the bullpen was able to hold the lead, with sophomore Kamron Fields replacing Madden in the fourth with the bases loaded and needing only three pitches to strike out the only batter he faced. Junior Tristan Stevens and freshman Cole Quintanilla did the rest of the heavy lifting from there, as each pitcher went 2.1 innings with three strikeouts and one run allowed apiece.
The win allowed Texas to reach .500 on the season and avoid a sweep at the hands of a rival, but the victory hardly makes up for losing 14 of the last 19 games and missing the NCAA tournament despite ranking in the top 10 nationally early in the season.
So the challenge for Pierce and his staff over the coming months will be to figure out what went wrong and coax some significant improvement out of a roster that has plenty of pitching talent and a couple young position players to build around in Kennedy and Ford.