Coach hopes shutouts ‘con­ta­gious’

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS - By Danny Davis daniel­d­avis@states­

On Wed­nes­day, David Pierce told his base­ball play­ers that one of his words for the day was “con­ta­gious.”

In Pierce’s eyes, one player’s suc­cess can be con­ta­gious among com­pet­i­tive team­mates. There­fore, that might be the best word to de­scribe the re­cent ef­forts of the UT pitch­ing staff. Texas re­cently posted shutouts in back-to­back con­fer­ence games for the first time since 2010.

With a 3.04 ERA, Texas also ranks third in the Big 12 and 20th in the NCAA.

“Us start­ing pitch­ers, we’re all com­pet­i­tive, and we’re all try­ing to top each other’s out­ings and all of that,” sopho­more Nolan King­ham said. “We feed off it, and we just like com­pet­ing with each other.”

Hav­ing won five straight, Texas heads to Kansas this week­end for a three-game se­ries. With the ex­cep­tion Sun­day’s 6-5 win over Kansas State, Texas has been paced by pos­i­tive pitch­ing per­for­mances dur­ing the win­ning streak. In fact, five pitch­ers es­tab­lished note­wor­thy ca­reer-highs over an eight­day span:

■ UT’s 9-7 win over UT-RGV on March 22: Re­liever Jon Malmin (ca­reer­high 6⅔ in­nings, 7 K’s)

UT’s 9-7 win over UT-RGV on March 22: Re­liever Beau Ridge­way (4 K’s)

UT’s 2-0 win over Kansas State on March 24: Start­ing pitcher Nolan King­ham (9 in­nings)

UT’s 5-0 win over Kansas State on March 25: Start­ing pitcher Mor­gan Cooper (8 in­nings, 11 K’s)

UT’s 12-2 win over TAMU-CC on March 28: Start­ing pitcher Nick Kennedy (7 in­nings, 11 K’s)

On Mon­day, King­ham earned his first Big 12 pitcher of the week award.

“It was awe­some and all, but we’re go­ing to keep on mov­ing,” said King­ham, whose 0.72 ERA leads the Big 12. Cooper sits in fourth place with a 1.63 ERA.

The Haig ef­fect: The pitch­ers are in the midst of their first sea­son work­ing with vol­un­teer as­sis­tant Phil Haig. A for­mer left-handed pitcher at Illi­nois and Florida In­ter­na­tional, the 28-year-old Haig spent the past five years work­ing for Pierce at Sam Hous­ton State and Tu­lane.

Last year, Tu­lane threw an NCAA-best 13 shutouts. Only seven teams in the coun­try have topped Texas’ five shutouts this spring.

“He’s been in­cred­i­ble for our pitch­ing staff,” Pierce said of Haig. “He’s got a great base­ball IQ, but he also has a good re­la­tion­ship with pitch­ers. Un­for­tu­nately, I have to be the ham­mer some­times, but it’s the right re­la­tion­ship when­ever ... the staff is work­ing with him.”

Dou­ble trou­ble: Texas has turned a na­tion-lead­ing 33 dou­ble plays, which is one bet­ter than San Diego State and Vir­ginia Tech. Short­stop David Hamil­ton and sec­ond base­man Bret Boswell, who played short­stop last sea­son, have been in the mid­dle of much of the mad­ness. Third base­man Ryan Reynolds and first base­man Kacy Cle­mens also have played well on the cor­ners; Hamil­ton and Reynolds are fresh­men.

The Longhorns have com­mit­ted 16 er­rors, but their .985 fielding per­cent­age ranks sec­ond na­tion­ally. Last year, Texas had a .964 fielding per­cent­age in an 80-er­ror sea­son.

Soc­cer hires Sanchez: Keri Sanchez has joined An­gela Kelly’s soc­cer coach­ing staff. Sanchez spent the past 13 sea­sons as the head coach at Clare­mont-Mudd-Scripps, a Di­vi­sion III school in Cal­i­for­nia. Sanchez led the Athenas to a 148-92-30 record. At Texas, she’ll re­place the re­cently de­parted Lance Key.

“The abil­ity to hire head coaches into our pro­gram speaks vol­umes as to the sup­port and pres­tige of Texas and our ath­letic depart­ment,” Kelly said in a state­ment.

Texas, which won spring games against Mon­ter­rey Tech and Hous­ton, trav­els to UTSA on Fri­day. The Longhorns were 8-9-1 in the fall.

Soft­ball beats UTSA: Four Longhorns hit home runs as the soft­ball team de­feated UTSA 9-1 in five in­nings Wed­nes­day night in San An­to­nio.

Three of Texas’ home runs came in the five-run third in­ning. Devon Tun­ning, Reagan Hath­away, Tay­lor Ellsworth and Jade Gortarez each home­red in the game. Brooke Bolinger (5-2) picked up the win, al­low­ing no runs on one hit through two in­nings of re­lief. Erica Wright started the game and pitched a per­fect two in­nings on her way to strik­ing out four.


UT base­ball coach David Pierce hopes his pitch­ers’ suc­cess will in­spire their team­mates.

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