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The Texas Longhorn baseball team capped off an up-and-down season with a series win over the Kansas State Wildcats over the weekend. After missing the postseason for the first time since 1998, the Longhorns bounced back with a pretty successful campaign in 2014.
The Horns currently sit at 19 and 20 in the two major college baseball rankings and are expected to be playing playoff baseball in the coming weeks.
The roller coaster season began on a high note for Texas, as the Longhorns racked up big non-conference wins against Houston, Rice, Stanford and Cal. The Horns entered Big 12 play with some momentum after winning 13 of their first 17 games of the season. Texas hit a bit of a speed bump to begin conference play, dropping a home series to Kansas for the first time in this century. However, the Longhorns responded in a huge way by winning 15 of the next 17. The hot streak included a series win over Texas Tech on the road and a couple of sweeps of rivals Baylor at home and Oklahoma on the road.
After this stretch of success, the Longhorns skyrocketed into the top 10 of both polls and looked dominant in all three faucets of the game. The biggest problem with last year’s team was the lack of consistent offensive production. The Horns lost a large number of 3-2 and 2-1 games and constantly wasted strong pitching performances. The first half of this season was a completely different story. Not only were the Longhorns able to continue their success on the mound, the bats came up clutch and it seemed like the entire lineup was streaking at the same time.
The roller coaster season took a pretty quick drop following a 10-2 victory on UT-Arlington on April 15. Texas welcomed TCU into town hoping to win its fourth straight conference series. The Longhorns were riding high, and many projections had the Longhorns as one of the top eight seeds in the country, meaning the Horns would get the chance to host both a regional and super regional in Austin. One projection, from perfectgame.com, even had Texas as the number one seed in the country going into the series against TCU. The Horned Frogs came into town and swept the Longhorns, outscoring UT 8-1 in three games.
The struggles didn’t stop after TCU, as the Longhorns needed a big comeback to knock off UT-Pan American at home. The Horns lost their next two Big 12 series against Oklahoma State at home and West Virginia on the road. After being ranked in the top 10 for a couple of weeks, the Horns fell back down to earth and now aren’t even projected to host their own regional. Texas was able to win its final series of the regular season, beating K State in Manhattan over this past weekend. Dillon Peters and Morgan Cooper combined to throw a no-hitter in a 12-0 rout on Friday. The two dominated from start to finish en route to Texas’s first no-hitter since 2009. On Saturday, however, the Horns dropped game two of the series in walk-off fashion. Texas took the rubber game on Sunday, needing ten innings to knock off the Wildcats 9-8. The series win was much needed for the Longhorns to get their mojo back heading into the postseason, but its tough to take too much from barely beating the worst team in the conference two out of three times.
The Longhorns finished the regular season with a record of 36-16 overall and 13-11 in the conference. The 13-11 Big 12 record is good enough for fifth in the conference standings. Texas opens Big 12 tournament play this Wednesday against 4th seeded Texas Tech. A strong showing in the conference tourney this week could be the deciding factor on whether or not Texas will be a host for a tournament regional.