When Longhorn fans take their seats at UFCU Disch-Falk Field, they can relive former Longhorn Roger Clemens’ legacy by admiring his retired number that adorns the wall of the stadium’s lower deck.
But perhaps a more appropriate way to honor the Hall of Famer would be to look directly onto the field, where his son Kacy Clemens can be seen standing in the left side of the batter’s box.
The senior first baseman is hungry for one last trip to Omaha in a burnt orange uniform as he prepares to start his final season at Texas.
“(Going to the College World Series) happened my freshman year, and that was one of the best years of my life,” Clemens said. “That’s what we’re looking to do this year. We want to go to Omaha and win. That’s the only thing I care about.”
But during the past two seasons, his team hasn’t come close to reaching such a goal. The Longhorns couldn’t scrape up a winning percentage above .500 over the last two years, let alone make their mark in Omaha. Clemens is well aware of his squad’s struggles to live up to the standards set by the program’s long-standing tradition and prestige.
“I think the toughest thing is when you lose around here, it’s a big deal,” Clemens said. “You can lose at other schools and it’d be normal, but here it doesn’t happen. There’s a reason why we represent this Longhorn on our chest … We come here to win and that hasn’t happened.”
Although 2016 left a bitter taste in his mouth, it wasn’t a complete waste of a year for Clemens’ personal development. He was named first baseman on the 2016 Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship All-Tournament team after hitting .400 and slugging .600. Clemens attributes his growth as a player to his recently obtained role as a steady first baseman.
“I think my preparation as a hitter from last year, getting that whole fall to hit, finally realizing what position I’m going to play, not tossing back and forth between pitcher and hitter,” Clemens said. “I think that’s helped me out a lot.”
Clemens also looks at the hiring of head coach David Pierce as a primary driving force of motivation for the upcoming season.
“Coach Pierce is awesome,” Clemens said. “He cares about your life, and he cares about how you’re going to be as a man. I think that the change was good.”
Pierce expects Clemens and the senior class to carry the team on their backs by demonstrating strong leadership both on and off the field.
“With Kacy Clemens, Bret Boswell who is a redshirt junior, Morgan Cooper, Zane Gurwitz — those guys have been everything you expect out of senior leadership,” Pierce said. “The leaning on them, that’s something they have to create with the younger guys.”
Moving forward, the result of this season for Texas is still up in the air, but Clemens is confident he can help his team turn the program around and find success before he graduates.
“I think we’re excited to bring happiness to Austin with this baseball season for sure,” Clemens said. “It’s going to be fun, and I think we’re going to win a lot of ball games.”