What has gone wrong with the once-dominant Texas baseball team?

Texas pitcher Lebarron Johnson Jr. (57) pitches during the home game against LSU.
Texas pitcher Lebarron Johnson Jr. (57) pitches during the home game against LSU. / Mikala Compton/American-Statesman / USA

Let’s get this straight, Texas baseball isn’t terrible. The Longhorns aren’t even all that bad.

But, the Horns don’t look like their usual self.

Texas has only won 61.2 percent of its games, a far cry from the habitual College World Series hopeful squad.

At 30-19 overall so far this season, the Longhorns have just two conference series remaining before the postseason begins – against the UCF Golden Knights and the Kansas Jayhawks.

So, as the team speeds toward its final Big 12 Tournament and (hopefully) a run to the College World Series, what has changed to knock Texas out of the top teams?

Here’s a look at the struggles and shortcomings of the Horns’ 2024 season thus far:

David Pierce took over Texas pitching

Head coach David Pierce announced at the end of last season that he would be taking the reigns of Texas’ bullpen for the 2024 season.

So far, that’s amounted to little more than a complete failure.

The Horns are averaging a 4.98 ERA on the mound through 49 games and have had to use double-digit pitchers in numerous games.

Grant Fontenot has been Texas’ best pitcher throughout the year with a 2.45 ERA, far from elite.

Lebarron Johnson Jr., who was supposed to be the Horns’ all-star starter for the season, has a 5.82 ERA with an abysmal 67 hits allowed – the highest for the team.

Pierce’s tactics with his bullpen have not unfolded as fans expected, and most certainly have led to a great deal of the Longhorns’ losses.

Everyone around the Horns got better

The Big 12 has long been a dominant force in collegiate baseball but until this year, Texas has consistently been able to find its way to the top.

This season, however, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State stand atop the conference with West Virginia and Kansas close behind Texas.

In non-conference play, the Horns have lost multiple times to Texas State and Washington. They have also fallen to teams that were supposed to be easy defeats such as Texas A&M Corpus Christi, BYU, and UT Rio Grande Valley.

With losses to smaller programs, the Longhorns have found themselves outside of the NCAA Top 25 rankings for the first time in a long time.

Longhorns struggle to find consistent batting

There have been numerous games where Texas has scored in the double digits. 

Against Sam Houston State, the Horns’ bats were on fire in a 16-9 victory. Against UT-Arlington, the Longhorns shut out the Mavericks in an 11-0 win. Against Kansas State, one of the series Texas won this season, the Longhorns outscored the Wildcats 21-11.

However, in 10 of Texas’ 19 losses, the Horns have failed to score more than 3 runs. 

In the team’s only loss to the TCU Horned Frogs, the Longhorns failed to bring a single batter home, losing 0-5.

The lack of consistency at the plate is reflected in the lack of consistency in the win column for Texas. Without continuously hot bats, the Horns will not be able to take down opponents in the Big 12 or NCAA Tournament.

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