There are three distinct aspects to a championship baseball team – pitching, defense and offense. You will not find true enlightenment at UFCU Disch Falk Field unless the Texas offense rounds into form. None of that surprises anyone that has casually followed the team and possesses any capacity of short term memory.
So what did Augie Garrido do? Host the Missouri Tigers. Master. Nothing harmonizes mind, body and spirit faster than a team of only four players with an ERA under 4.00.
Texas hit .316 while sweeping the Tigers and five Longhorns had an OBP of .500 or better.
Shelving further ridicule of MU baseball, there are some positive trends worth noting for the Texas offense. Namely, Tant Shepherd and Lucas Kephart.
Shepherd set the pace last weekend by going 7-13 at the plate. Mix in a couple of doubles, two RBI and a few runs scored and the Longhorns may have found the upperclassman bat they’ve lacked.
Then there’s Kephart. All the JUCO transfer did was drive in seven runs, hit .400 and scratch out several walks. Kephart now owns the team’s best batting average in conference play. As an added bonus, he’s a California native, so he
enjoys chronic, interprets koans communicates well with Garrido.
Because of a lingering elbow issue, the team has played Kephart sparingly and only at DH. The elbow and his plate production represent major storylines to follow for the next month.
Are we witnessing The Flower Sermon? Can Shepherd and Kephart take the teachings of Bodhidarma Garrido and translate them throughout the dugout?
That remains a significant question, but early returns are favorable. In the MU series Brandon Loy went 6-12 and Jordan Etier went 5-11. Those two also combined to score seven runs.
Erich Weiss was also there with his steady .500+ OBP. The freshman phenom continues to lead the Horns in several offensive categories. No telling how good he can be at the plate with some upperclassmen protecting him in the order?
Shepherd and Kephart are like two pebbles. Whoa. Dude.
The Longhorns kept momentum building during last night’s 8-1 thrashing of TAMCC. Inappropriate to blame the early season loss to the Islanders on the offense, but big picture perspective for last night – continue to improve towards a championship caliber team. Stay in the moment.
Against the Islanders, Shepherd was 3-5 with 3 RBI and Kephart was 1-3 with 2 BB’s, an RBI and a run scored. Coincidentally, the team pounded out a season-high 15 hits last night.
Four games is much too small of a sample, but Kephart and Shepherd’s performances have been similar for the last 10-11 tilts. If this is nothing more than a pair of hot streaks, then the team will revert back to the weighted collar. If these two guys are assuming the mantles of a Seth Johnston and Bradley Suttle, then the Big 12 better get used to seeing Texas in first place in the standings.
For golf pricks, it’s Masters week. For everybody else, the Longhorns play the first two games of their weekend series at Baylor before the Sunday finale in Austin.
The Bears’ 4-5 mark in conference play mirrors their season – wins and losses in unexpected places. Baylor does play better in Waco, but that is also a ballpark where Texas tends to hit pretty well.
Great timing for Garrido to discern if the recent output on offense was due to the level of competition or if his team is finding balance. Traditionally there are Three Treasures looked to for guidance, as it turns out this team may have found two on offense.
Experiential wisdom, here we come.