Fall Report: TexasFall Report
AUSTIN, Texas — Restoring order in immediate fashion can be a daunting task at a place like Texas, but coach David Pierce and his staff were up to the challenge last season.
The Longhorns entered the season with a little uncertainty, but there was a constant – the pitching staff was in terrific shape. The ‘Horns rode those arms to success much of the season, finishing the year with a 39-24 overall record, while also being in the mix for a regional host entering the final stretch of the regular season.
Most importantly, the Longhorns set the foundation for the new staff with a trip to the NCAA postseason and the Long Beach Regional title game. UT was in the driver’s seat in the regional before host Long Beach stormed back to win the final two games of the tournament to advance to the super regional round.
Yes, the Longhorns were disappointed to not make an even bigger splash in the first year of a new era. But it was a stepping stone for a program that either struggled to make the postseason or not made it at all the past few seasons.
There were some familiar and fresh faces around UFCU Disch-Falk Field this fall. Morgan Cooper, Kyle Johnston and Nick Kennedy, three big-time arms on last year’s club, had moved on to the professional ranks, while offensively, Kacy Clemens and others also had moved on to the pro ranks.
UT’s weekend rotation is in good standing after fall workouts. Nolan Kingham and Blair Henley will undoubtedly give Pierce’s club a stellar one-two punch, while the biggest story line of the fall might be the potential move of hard-throwing Chase Shugart to the rotation. Shugart has an electric arm with a fastball in the mid-90s. And while he came out of the bullpen the last two seasons, the Longhorns are thinking hard about moving him into the rotation. The plus to that is having another big-time arm in the rotation, while the potential negative is a more uncertain situation at the back-end of games.
The offense hopes to come together, too. Kody Clemens had a strong fall and showed more pop, while the Longhorns are hopeful that guys like Ryan Reynolds and some impact newcomers will make big waves.
“You’re always trying to get better, and I think if you look at our lineup, there’s some versatility and athleticism,” Texas coach David Pierce said. “We have a chance to average 6.7-6.8 runners in our lineup, and even a guy like Michael McCann can run as a catcher. We’ll be really fast in the outfield, too, but we just need to calm down when we get around the ball and such.”
What’s the inside scoop on the Longhorns after fall workouts? Let’s dive in …
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