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Previewing the Austin Regional hosted by No. 9 seed Texas

Head coach David Pierce’s team opens with a rematch against Air Force, which blew out Texas 14-2 in an April midweek game.

Syndication: The Corpus Christi Caller Times Annie Rice/Caller-Times / USA TODAY NETWORK

After making it to the Big 12 Tournament championship game, the Texas Longhorns received the No. 9 seed in the NCAA Tournament on Monday, allowing the Longhorns to host an Austin Regional for a record 37th time.

The Austin Regional is paired with the Greenville Regional hosted by No. 8 seed East Carolina.

Starting on Friday at UFCU Disch-Falk Field, the Austin Regional also features No. 2 seed Louisiana Tech, No. 3 seed Dallas Baptist, and No. 4 seed Air Force. The Longhorns open the regional against the Falcons at 1 p.m. Central on Longhorn Network, with the Bulldogs and Patriots following at 6:30 p.m. Central on ESPN+.

At 42-19, the Longhorns enter the regional with some momentum after notching two wins over the Cowboys and a win over the Horned Frogs in Arlington and finishing the regular season with eight wins in the final nine games.

Left-hander Pete Hansen (10-1, 3.01 ERA) is expected to receive the start in Friday’s rematch against Air Force, which came to Austin and shocked Texas 14-2 in the first of two midweek games in April. The Longhorns bounced back with a 12-10 win the following day, but needed two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to pull out the victory. So there’s a stark difference between opening opponents as the No. 9 seed compared to last season, when Texas received the No. 2 national seed and blew out Southern in the first game of the Austin Regional — the Falcons have already proven they can hang with the Longhorns.

And while Texas will benefit from likely starting Hansen, Air Force will counter with 6’6 right-hander Paul Skenes (10-2, 2.42 ERA), a potential first-round pick whose fastball can reach 100 miles per hour. Skenes also catches and hit a home run against Texas in the Tuesday blowout by Air Force, one of his 12 home runs on the season.

With the lack of starting pitching depth and continued unreliability in the bullpen, there’s significant pressure on the Longhorns to beat the Falcons and avoid the much more difficult path out of the loser’s bracket.

No. 2 seed Louisiana Tech also boasts a 42-19 record after finishing second in the Conference USA standings with a 20-10 record and winning the conference tournament. The Bulldogs did struggle some away from home with a 14-10 road record, but did win a midweek game over the Tigers in Baton Rouge. As a team, Louisiana Tech is hitting .274 with 73 home runs, led by shortstop Taylor Young, who leads off the order for the Bulldogs and is batting .358 with 11 home runs. The middle of the order boasts some power, too, with right fielder Steele Netterville slugging 14 home runs and catcher Jorge Corona adding 13 of his own. No. 2 starter Ryan Jennings, a right-hander, could prove a difficult matchup for the Longhorns if the two teams meet on Saturday — the New Braunfels product is 5-1 with a 3.74 ERA and opponents are only hitting .214 against him this season.

Ranked at times throughout the season, No. 3 seed Dallas Baptist is 34-22-1 this season, but struggled in conference play with an 11-9-1 record and only managed on win in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. Five players have 10 or more home runs for the Patriots, including Georgetown product Cole Moore, who is batting .356 and is one of only two regular starters with an average over .300. No. 2 starter Chandler Arnold is a right-hander with a 2-3 record and 4.57 ERA who is holding opponents to a .254 batting average.

NCAA AUSTIN REGIONAL SCHEDULE

Friday, June 3

Game 1: #1 Texas vs. #4 Air Force – 1 p.m., Longhorn Network

Game 2: #2 Louisiana Tech vs. #3 Dallas Baptist – 6 p.m., ESPN+

Saturday, June 4

Game 3: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2 – 12 p.m.

Game 4: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2 – 6 p.m.

Sunday, June 5

Game 5: Winner Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4 – 1 p.m.

Game 6: Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 4 – 7 p.m.

Monday, June 6

Game 7 (if necessary): same teams as Game 6 – 2 p.m. (subject to change)