Chemistry playing a role for Baseball this season
March 15, 2013
On Tuesday night against Oral Roberts, Texas closer Corey Knebel entered the game in the eighth with a 3-1 lead. Despite a solid 0-1 pitch, Knebel gave up a two-run triple to tie the game. It was a moment that resonated with the veterans of the Texas Baseball team. Last season, the Longhorns failed to qualify for the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998. However, instead of allowing their opponent to win the game, the Longhorns tapped into a theme that has been consistent for them this season: chemistry.
With two outs in the bottom of the eighth and no one on base, Brooks Marlow started a rally with a single. Collin Shaw followed by hitting an 0-2 pitch into right field and Weston Hall hit a hard grounder that glanced off the ORU second baseman to score the eventual winning run in Marlow. Knebel would respond by striking out the side in the ninth for the win.
When spring practice started earlier this year, head coach Augie Garrido encouraged his team to understand that no one else could be the 2013 Longhorns and they had the ability to create something special.
"I think everyone enjoys being around each other," Texas sophomore pitcher Parker French said. "They like coming here and working. Everyone trusts each other that they will do the right thing on and off the field. We enjoy each other's company and really want to go into battle with one another. We have a lot of fun together. That's the biggest thing. It's a long season and baseball can be a grind. You have to have fun with it all."
French said the difference between this year and last year has been the team's attitude and relentless quality the players possess when the score is close. Last season, the team was 5-7 in one-run games, but this season, the Longhorns are 5-1 in one-run games.
"We have a bunch of guys on this team that are fighters," Texas junior catcher Jacob Felts said.
When the Longhorns traveled to Stanford for their first road trip this season, Texas was swept in similar fashion as last year's series with a notable difference. After being blown out 15-1 in the series finale last year, the Longhorns played well in two games and were only outscored by eight runs in the entire series.
"Despite what happened at Stanford, we have come back very well and I'm pleased with how everyone has come back and fighting their tails off," Felts said. "It just shows what kind of character we have and I'm proud of all of the guys and the roles they are playing so far. All the wins in the past couple weeks have been total team efforts."
The Oral Roberts victory provided a look into the attitude the 2013 Longhorns seem to carrying with them on a daily basis.
"They stuck us in the mouth (in the eighth inning) and I felt last year's team, we might have just caved in, but this year's team, we just said `so what'...here is our chance to go out there and hit them in the mouth. It's how we deal with adversity and come back from it," French said.
As the Longhorns begin conference play, the goal of getting back into the NCAA Tournament is on the minds of the players and the team's chemistry will play an important role in that quest.