Confidence is not easy to come by and it definitely isn’t easy to regain. The Longhorns know this.
Confidence wasn’t exactly at an abundance following the 8-2 loss to TCU in last year’s Big 12 Tournament, capping off a disappointing sub .500 season.
But Texas seems to have found the right guy to restore confidence on the 40 Acres. It’s no coincidence that the team has swagger again following the hiring of head coach David Pierce.
“They’re buying into everything we do and I think that’s helped them relax,” Pierce said. “The expectations at The University of Texas adds that little pressure. You feel like you have to do something different. I’m just trying to constantly get them to trust who they are.”
The term ‘rebuilding period’ is thrown around a lot after a new hire, but players are saying that Pierce has no intention of entertaining that excuse.
“He said there is no rebuilding period. We want to win now,” junior catcher Michael Cantu said. “The fact that he came in and said we’re going to win a lot of games and we’re going to win them now — the confidence he has in us...as a player you love that.”
Pierce has coached at Houston, Rice, Sam Houston and most recently at Tulane before he came to Austin. The veteran coach’s approach may seem unorthodox to some, but it appears to be working just fine so far.
“From the get-go he’s made this field really inviting, and an exciting place to come to everyday,” junior pitcher Connor Mayes said. “We’re learning every day and we’re excited to be here. He’s been very personal with us.”
However, the calm aura is no substitute for criticism — of course that, too, is given in a positive, constructive manner.
“We try and make sure that when something happens in the course of a practice that it’s not always just yelling at the kids,” Pierce said. “Usually there’s something within the clubhouse where it’ll come up and it’s usually humorous.”
Pierce says he thinks the light-hearted critique is often quite effective.
“When we do it that way I think everybody relaxes a little more and realizes that it is a game and that we are going to fail,” Pierce said. “So we got to be able to laugh at ourselves.”
Although Pierce has yet to coach a game for the Longhorns, he seems to be quite in sync with his club.
“They’re fun because they want to get better,” Pierce said. “They don’t feel like they’re trying to keep up with something else. They’re trying to be themselves and we’re really seeing their talents come out. They’re going to make some dumb mistakes at times, but we’re willing to take that chance because they are talented and their mentality is right.”