The wait is finally over. After wrapping up what Texas head coach David Pierce called the best fall he has ever had with a team, the Longhorns will finally be able to showcase what the 2018 version of themselves has to offer. And they’ll get to start it all off against a high-quality opponent that hails from just one state over.
Friday night, Texas will begin its 2018 season against the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns. The teams are both coming off of very similar seasons. Texas won 39 games; Louisiana-Lafayette won 35. Texas lost 24; Louisiana-Lafayette lost 21. Both are worthy opponents and are sure to give each other a run for their money.
“There’s definitely something different in the atmosphere,” junior pitcher Beau Ridgeway said. “We’re just taking it day by day, getting our work done in practice. We’re making sure we get the little things right. But we’ll be ready to go by Friday.”
This will begin a long and trying nonconference schedule which includes multiple traditional baseball giants, such as perennial SEC powers LSU and Arkansas, as well as Stanford and Houston. The difficult pre-conference slate will serve as a litmus test for Texas going into Big 12 play, where it will face a fairly daunting conference schedule as well.
“There’s a little insanity with (the schedule),” Pierce said. “I’m not so sure it’s got the balance we need, but at the same time, it’s gonna test us. I think what we want to see is, in the early part of our season, (that) we’re playing well.”
The new-look Texas roster should boast more power than in previous years. Pierce believes that at least seven of the team’s regular players have the opportunity to hit anywhere between five and 12 home runs. Players who had shown very little previous ability to hit the long ball, such as sophomore outfielder Austin Todd and sophomore shortstop David Hamilton, have drastically improved in the power department.
The defense is also under construction. Junior infielder Kody Clemens will take over at third base. Todd has found his home in right field. The most significant transition of all might be sophomore Ryan Reynolds, who will be moving across the diamond from his natural third-base spot to first — a position he’s never played before in his life. Reynolds has mentioned the transition being easier due to the help of former first baseman Kacy Clemens.
“(The transition) wasn’t bad at all,” Reynolds said. “It was kinda natural. I talked to (Kacy) — he was giving me some tips, helping me understand first and everything about it.”
First pitch on Friday night at UFCU Disch-Falk Field is set for 6:30 p.m.