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The Daily Texan presents

ARMS RACE

How do the Horns make up for losing ace Sam Stafford?

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eview. a preseason baseball pr


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Friday, February 17, 2012

theLINEUP 3 page

6 page Cover Photo: Corey Leamon | Daily Texan file photo, Above: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

series to watch Texas gets its second baseman and vocal leader, Justin Etier, back for a three-game set against No. 2 Stanford and plays its last series against Texas A&M before the Aggies bolt for the SEC.

carrying the offense With sophomore third baseman Erich Weiss being the only returning member of the lineup that hit over .300 last season, Weiss will need help from fellow hitters to get the offense rolling in 2012

Sophomores stepping up

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Like the football and men’s basketball team here at the 40 Acres, this Texas team is young. But that doesn’t mean they can’t make a return trip to Omaha for the College World Series.

replacing sam stafford The Longhorns lost their ace for the season but sophomore Nathan Thornhill and junior Hoby Milner are looking to seize the opportunity to become the team’s most reliable hurlers.

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getting back to omaha It’s been seven years since Texas has made back-to-back trips to the College World Series. But after going 0-2 in Omaha last season, the Longhorns can’t wait to get back.

picking his brain Augie Garrido knows what it takes to win. He’s only done it 1,817 times as a head coach -- more than any other skipper in college baseball history. See what he has to say about his team this season.

Corey Leamon | Daily Texan file photo

The Daily Texan Presents:

2012 Edition

Sports Editor……………......................Sameer Bhuchar Associate Sports Editor......................Christian Corona Photo Editors………………….........………Ryan Edwards ................................................................Elisabeth Dillon Copy Editor……….............................……Elyana Barrera ..........................................................Klarissa Fitzpatrick Senior Sports Writers............................................Christian Corona ..................................…...................…...............Chris Hummer Senior Designer.........................................Bobby Blanchard Issue Staff........................................................Trey Scott


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Friday, February 17, 2012

SERIESTOWATCH

— By Christian Corona | Daily Texan Staff

No. 13 Texas @ No. 2 Stanford 2011 record: 49-19 (19-8 Big 12)

No. 13 Texas @ No. 19 Oklahoma

2011 record: 35-22 (14-12 Pac-12)

2011 record: 49-19 (19-8 Big 12)

2011 record: 41-19 (14-11)

No. 7 Texas A&M @ No. 13 Texas

No. 13 Texas @ California 2011 record: 49-19 (19-8 Big 12)

Overall 10-3 SEC (7-1)

2011 record: 47-22 (19-8 Big 12)

2011 record: 49-19 (19-8 Big 12)

Sunken Diamond Palo Alto, Calif. Feb. 24-26

L. Dale Mitchell Park Norman, Okla. Mar.ch16-18

Dell Diamond Round Rock, Texas March 30-Apr. 1

Olsen Field/Disch-Falk Field College Station, Texas/Austin, Texas April 27-29

The Longhorns face their first elite opponent when they head west to face the Stanford in the second weekend series of the season. Like Texas, the Cardinal were ousted in the postseason by North Carolina in the Chapel Hill Super Regional. This series will also be the first that senior second baseman Jordan Etier, who was arrested and kicked off the team last October, will play in this season. Etier is not playing with a scholarship and is serving a four-game suspension to start the year.

The Sooners were upset by Dallas Baptist and Oral Roberts in the Fort Worth Regional last year but come into this season as one of three Big 12 teams in the Baseball America preseason Top 25. The Sooners boasted a Big 12-best .313 batting average last year but lose their top five hitters from 2011, as well as 10game winner Michael Rocha, a 26th-round pick by the Philadelphia Phillies last June. Texas has won eight of its last nine games against Oklahoma.

It might be hard to believe but the Golden Bears, the 6th-place team out of the Pac-12 last season, advanced further in the postseason the Longhorns in 2011. Cal, the No. 3 seed in the Houston Regional, won six straight games after falling to Baylor in its first postseason contest to reach the College World Series, where they eliminated Texas A&M, for the first time since 1992. The Longhorns have a four-game series with the Golden Bears at the Dell Diamond, including a double-header Mar. 31.

Despite their respective struggles, the Longhorns football team, as well as the men’s and women’s basketball squads, all handed Texas A&M a demoralizing defeat before the Aggies left for the SEC. Texas will try to follow suit when they face the unanimous Big 12 favorite this April. With Texas A&M bringing back top-notch pitchers in Michael Wach and Ross Stripling, along with All-American outfielder Tyler Naquin, the Longhorns will have their work cut out for themselves.

LONGHORN 2012 SEASON:

Feb. 17 - April 1 Date Feb. 17 Feb. 18 Feb. 19 Feb. 21 Feb. 24 Feb. 25 Feb. 26 Feb. 28 March 2 March 3 March 4 March 6 March 9 March10 March 11 March 13 March 16 March 17 March 18 March 20 March 23 March 24 March 25 March 28 March 30 March 31 March 31 April 1

April 5 - June 26

Opponent

Location

Time

Date

Duke Duke Duke UT-Arlington Stanford Stanford Stanford Houston Baptist Rice Tennessee Arkansas Dallas Baptist Loyola Marymount Loyola Marymount Loyola Marymount Texas State Oklahoma Oklahoma Oklahoma Stephen F. Austin Kansas State Kansas State Kansas State UT-Pan American California California California California

Austin, Texas Austin, Texas Austin, Texas Austin, Texas Palo Alto, Calif. Palo Alto, Calif. Palo Alto, Calif. Austin, Texas Houston, Texas Houston, Texas Houston, Texas Austin, Texas Austin, Texas Austin, Texas Austin, Texas Austin, Texas Norman, Okla. Norman, Okla. Norman, Okla. Austin, Texas Manhattan, Kan. Manhattan, Kan. Manhattan, Kan. Austin, Texas Round Rock, Texas Round Rock, Texas Round Rock, Texas Round Rock, Texas

7:00 p.m. 6:00 p.m. 12:00 p.m. 6:00 p.m. 7:30 p.m. 3:00 p.m. 3:00 p.m. 6:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m. 3:30 p.m. 11:00 a.m. 4:00 p.m. 6:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m. 1:00 p.m. 6:00 p.m. 6:30 p.m. 2:00 p.m. 1:00 p.m. 6:00 p.m. 6:30 p.m. 2:00 p.m. 1:00 p.m. 6:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m. 3:30 p.m. 6:30 p.m. 1:00 p.m.

April 5 April 6 April 7 April 10 April 13 April 14 April 15 April 17 April 20 April 21 April 22 April 24 April 27 April 28 April 29 May 1 May 4 May 5 May 6 May 12 May 12 May 17 May 18 May 19 May 23-27 June 1-4 June 8-11 June15-25/26

Opponent Texas Tech Texas Tech Texas Tech Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Oklahoma State Oklahoma State Oklahoma State Texas State Kansas Kansas Kansas Central Arkansas Texas A&M Texas A&M Texas A&M Prairie View A&M Missouri Missouri Missouri Texas Southern Texas Southern Baylor Baylor Baylor Big 12 Championships Regionals Super Regionals College World Series

Location

Time

Lubbock, Texas Lubbock, Texas Lubbock, Texas Austin, Texas Austin, Texas Austin, Texas Austin, Texas Austin, Texas Austin, Texas Austin, Texas Austin, Texas Austin, Texas College Station, Texas Austin, Texas Austin, Texas Austin, Texas Columbia, Mo. Columbia, Mo. Columbia, Mo. Austin, Texas Austin, Texas Waco, Texas Austin, Texas Austin, Texas Oklahoma City, Okla. TBA TBA Omaha, Neb.

6:30 p.m. 6:30 p.m. 2:00 p.m. 6:00 p.m. 6:00 p.m. 3:30 p.m. 2:30 p.m. 6:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m. 1:00 p.m. 6:00 p.m. 6:35 p.m. 3:00 p.m. 2:00 p.m. 6:00 p.m. 6:00 p.m. 1:00 p.m. 1:00 p.m. TBA TBA 6:30 p.m. 6:00 p.m. 1:00 p.m. TBA TBA TBA TBA

Texas by the numbers in 2011 When opponent scored 2 runs or less When opponent scored 3 or more runs When Texas scored first

Leading after 6

32-2

17-17 32-5 38-0

Trailing after 6

40%

Trailing after 8

6

Trailing after 7

18% - compiled by Trey Scott


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Friday, February 17, 2012

AN ACE IN THE H Can Thornhill, Milner help Texas replace Stafford, go to Omaha?

Pair of pitchers make move from bullpen to rotation By Chris Hummer Daily Texan Staff

Texas’ Omaha run last season was fueled by outstanding pitching, particularly from its starting rotation. The problem is, nobody’s left from last year’s rotation. Two of the three members of the staff, Taylor Jungmann and Cole Green were lost to the MLB draft and the team’s projected ace, Sam Stafford, has suffered a shoulder injury that requires seasonending surgery. This all begs the question — who will be included in the rotation? And, perhaps more importantly, who is the ace? There are two hurlers that will attempt to fill Stafford’s shoes: junior Hoby Milner, the fourth member of last year’s rotation and sophomore Nathan Thornhill, who excelled out of the bullpen last season. Both have very similar styles on the mound and could each serves as the Friday starter for the Longhorns, although one could distinguish himself as the undisputed ace. “Hoby and Thornhill are very much the same,” said head coach Augie Garrido. “They pound the strike zone, field their position and hold runners very well. They’re not overpowering or overwhelming but at the same time they are courageous and efficient, which is exactly what we look for in our pitchers.” Thornhill will start out the season as the team’s Friday night starter and Milner will be pitching on Saturdays. Both will need to be at their best to fill the hole left by Stafford and the quality innings he was expected to provide. Milner showcased his skills in his very first start of 2011 when he sparkled, pitching seven innings of two-hit ball against Maryland. He also performed well on the biggest of stages, pitching 2.2 innings of scoreless relief in the College World Series. Thornhill displayed his abilities out of the bull pen, serving as a middle reliever, replacing starting pitchers when they struggled while safely carrying the team to its short-inning relievers. He was effective in this often thankless role with 1.89 ERA.

starting PITCHERS

It was his attitude and toughness out of the bull pen that made Garrido comfortable with making the sophomore his No. 1 guy to start the season. “His performances provide leadership and certainly there’s quality in his pitching. He is talented,” Garrido said. “He has his own style and identity but it is one that reflects the competitive courage we want all of our pitchers to have.” However, becoming the ace is completely different than filling in on a day where the starter doesn’t have his best stuff. Thornhill will be expected to be the stopper, the man that ends losing streaks and the guy that other teams dread facing. At least the Cedar Park native is familiar with the spotlight; he was an all-state starting pitcher and all-district quarterback in high school, both pieces of evidence that prove he can be dominant on the mound. Thornhill is capable of becoming the staff’s ace but is still young, and it would be a lot to expect an exceptional season in his second year of college baseball and first as a starter. Milner, on the other hand, is much more experienced. He has pitched in big-game situations and has the experience as a starter to naturally make the transition into the rotation. He posted numbers last season indicating his ability to become a bona fide starter as Milner was 7-4 with a 2.45 ERA while holding opponents to a .201 batting average. With another season of pitching under his belt, those numbers could easily develop into statistics characteristic of an ace. “I’m used to just being the set-up, bullpen guy but it’s an exciting role for me and I’m pumped for it,” Milner said. No matter how talented the pair is, the loss of Stafford is still a huge blow. But now a young, talented group of Longhorns have the chance to step in and do something great — something that may even include a trip back to Omaha.

W-L ERA K/9

BB/9 IP

AB

AB/IP

Hoby Milner

7-4

3.5

298

3.5

Nathan Thornhill

3-0

1.89 2.45

9.0 6.6

1.5

38.0 84.1

142

3.7

- compiled by Trey Scott

Nathan Thornhill Elisabeth Dillon| Daily Texan Staff


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Friday, February 17, 2012

HOLE?

Corey Leamon | Daily Texan File Photo Sam Stafford

Young Longhorns squad makes another run at Omaha By Christian Corona Daily Texan Staff

Hoby Milner Elisabeth Dillon| Daily Texan Staff

Omaha — the Mecca of college baseball, the site of the College World Series and the expected destination for Longhorn baseball teams every year. Behind pitchers like Taylor Jungmann and Cole Green, hitters like Brandon Loy and Tant Shepherd, and the all-time winningest coach in college baseball history, Texas reached the College World Series for the 34th time last season, a Division I record. Longhorns skipper Augie Garrido is back for his 16th year on the 40 Acres but Jungmann, Green, Loy and Shepherd are all pursuing professional baseball careers. Without any of its starting pitchers from a year ago and after losing three of its top four hitters, Texas could have a tough time getting back to Omaha. “I do know that we’ve gone to Omaha with less talent than we have right now,” Garrido said. “But talent doesn’t get you to Omaha, quite honestly. It’s part of it, but it’s not even the most important. Attitude and teamwork are the most important parts.” Last year marked the seventh time since Garrido took over as the Texas head coach in 1997 that he took the Longhorns to the College World Series. It was Garrido’s pitching staff, one that boasted the nation’s second-lowest ERA a year ago, that carried Texas to Omaha. The Longhorns bring back Corey Knebel, who tied a school record with 19 saves as a freshman in 2011, but will have three new starting pitchers in their rotation — sophomore Nathan Thornhill, junior Hoby Milner and freshman John Curtiss — after Sam Stafford, who was expected to be Texas’ ace, went down with a season-ending shoulder injury.

Other RETURING PITCHERS

“You can’t replace a guy like Taylor. You can’t replace a guy like Cole or Sam,” said Thornhill, who will start the season opener against Duke on Friday. “We definitely have a lot of young guys who know how to throw strikes and aren’t afraid to throw strikes, which is a huge deal. We’ve got a lot of guys who are ready to challenge hitters, whether they’re a freshman or senior.” While the guys Texas was sending to the mound were mowing down the competition, the players in the Longhorns’ lineup didn’t fare as well. Texas posted a team batting average of .269, the third-lowest in the Big 12 and the 224th-best in the country, last season. The Longhorns lost three members of that lineup, including Shepherd and Loy, who were two of their three batters that hit better than .300 last season. Texas’ lineup this year should feature many underclassmen, especially after junior center fielder Cohl Walla suffered a torn ACL during the offseason. “I think we have some good chances [to get to the College World Series],” said Erich Weiss, who led the team with a .348 batting average in 2011. “There might be a few [different] lineups after the first week going into the second week. Hopefully after that we can get it settled.” Whether the Longhorns’ lineup, rotation or bullpen will be good enough to get them back to Omaha remains to be seen. Texas is a relatively inexperienced squad but knows what it takes to get there. “We have enough talent on the pitching staff, we’re going to be able to play defense at a high enough level, and we’re going to be able to play offense at a higher level than we did last year,” Garrido said. “It’s about the fundamentals of the game. If we can master the fundamentals of the game, accept the roles that each player has in teamwork and maintain the right attitude, anything can happen. That’s the beauty of it.”

Position

Class Height Weight Notes

Austin Dicharr y

LHP

Sr.

Josh Urban

RHP

Jr.

6’4” 215 Throws 97 MPH fastball, needs work on other pitches 6’4” 195

FRESHMAN PITCHERs TO WATCH:

Good enough to start on weekends if healthy

Position Class

Height

Weight

Notes

RHP

Fr.

6’4”

200

Taylor Jungmann-type frame, teammates excited about his potential

Ricky Jacquez RHP

Fr,

5’9”

160

John Curtiss

Very live arm, looked good in limited action in fall

- compiled by Trey Scott


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Friday, February 17, 2012

Longhorns’ best hitter in 2011 poised for another solid season By Christian Corona Daily Texan Staff

Texas’ leading hitter last season can’t recall what his batting average was in 2011. “I don’t really remember. I’m not sure, but I think it ended up somewhere in the .340s,” said Longhorns third baseman Erich Weiss, a .348 hitter a year ago. “I hope it turns out to be better this year than last year. But I’m just going to do whatever I can to help the team win. I’m not going to try to be selfish.” Weiss vividly remembers how his freshman year ended. It ended in Omaha at the College World Series last June. Two days after falling to Florida, the Longhorns lost to North Carolina, going 0-2 in their NCAArecord 34th College World Series appearance. Weiss was 0-for-3 at the plate in the season finale. “It stung a little bit at the end,” Weiss said. “I think we could have played a little bit better. It was a hard game. They were a very good team. Hats off to them.”

Now, Weiss and his teammates are aiming for a better showing in Omaha this year. With the sophomore from Brenham being the only of Texas’ top four hitters from last season coming back, Weiss will likely play a big role in getting the Longhorns back to the College World Series. Weiss also led the team with 45 RBIs in 2011 and will attempt to avoid a sophomore slump in 2012. “What can happen — and we don’t know whether it will or not — is that he can decide that he has to do too much,” said Texas head coach Augie Garrido. “If he does that, then he’ll have a down year. If he comes out and just keeps baseball simple and continues to have fun with it, which is kind of his personality, he’ll be fine. He’ll make important contributions again to the team, offensively and defensively.” Last year, Weiss was part of a lineup that included three freshmen. Now those sophomores don’t have as many upperclassmen to lean on, especially with senior starting

pitcher Sam Stafford and junior center fielder Cohl Walla lost for the season due to injuries. Only two upperclassmen position players will likely be in the opening day lineup with junior Hoby Milner the only upperclassman in this weekend’s rotation. This leaves guys like Weiss to step up into leadership roles. “Sometimes I can be vocal. I like to lead by example,” Weiss said. [Sophomore catcher Jacob] Felts and [sophomore right fielder] Mark [Payton] are huge leaders on this team. [Junior outfielder] Jonathan Walsh is another one of those and I know [senior second baseman] Jordan Etier is an unbelievable leader on this team.” The Longhorns aren’t returning any of the their three starting pitchers from 2011 with the departures of Taylor Jungmann, who received a $2.5 million signing bonus from the Milwaukee Brewers, Cole Green, who got drafted in the ninth round by the Cincinnati Reds and Stafford, who is having shoulder surgery soon. Those three players helped

Sophomore third baseman Erich Weiss, flinging the ball across the diamond, did plenty of damage at the plate last season, too. Weiss, the only of three Texas hitters that batted better than .300 in 2011, led the Longhorns with a .348 batting average and 45 RBI.

Corey Leamon Daily Texan file photo

Texas compile a 2.45 ERA, the second best in the country while it checked in at No. 224 in the nation with a .269 team batting average. This season, it might be up to Weiss and the offense to shoulder more of the load. “I think this offense is headed for a great year,” Weiss said. “We’ve been hitting the ball so well right now. Supporting this pitching staff, which

is a great pitching staff, will only lead to good things.” If Weiss has his way, one of those good things will be getting back to Omaha. “There’s always the expectation to go to Omaha for the Texas Longhorns,” Weiss said. “We want to go to Omaha again this year and we’re all going to give it our best effort to get back there.”

Sophomores forced into leadership roles By Chris Hummer Daily Texan Staff

At the University of Texas, in any sport, it’s usually hard for freshmen to see the field. But in the Longhorns’ run to Omaha last season, the team carried 11 freshmen on the roster and five of those players saw significant playing time, including 2012 preseason AllAmerican closer Corey Knebel and third baseman Erich Weiss. As sophomores, they will be expected to play an even bigger role this season. There are only two projected upperclassmen in the lineup after losing starting center fielder Cohl Walla and pitcher Sam Stafford to season-ending injuries. All of the second-year players need to step up and fill the holes in the lineup made by injuries, graduation and the MLB draft. Contributions from Knebel and Weiss are expected, but the thing that will truly determine how successful the season will become is the performance of the other members of the 2010 class.

Starting catcher Jacob Felts, a Big 12 All-Freshman team performer last year, is a player who is expected to make great strides. Last season he was a steady presence behind the plate and handled one of the best pitching staffs in the country like a veteran. “Felts is a great leader, he’s the catcher and kind of the quarterback of the team. He is always going to get on somebody if he needs to,” said sophomore starting pitcher Nathan Thornhill. However, he struggled to catch up to the college game from the other side of the box. Felts hit only .215 last season and often served as the last hitter listed on the lineup card. In order for Felts’ game to continue to grow, he needs to make great strides at the plate. If he can manage to up his production there, it would be a huge step in improving what was one of the Big 12’s worst offenses last season. Fellow Big 12 All-Freshman team member Mark Payton will also play a big part in determining the team’s

potential this year. He had an excellent freshman year in right field and hit a steady .263 from the plate. Like Felts, though, that number will need to improve if the lineup is to succeed, especially because the starting nine will be without three of its top four hitters from last year. While contributions from these players are important, it will be the performances of some sophomores who are new to the lineup that will determine just how successful it can be. Brandon Loy has been a staple at shortstop on the 40 Acres the last three years but he was drafted by the Detroit Tigers this past season. So it will be up to Christian Summers to take his place. Summers played sparingly his freshman season, pinch-hitting and running on occasion. In 2012, he will be playing one of the key defensive positions on the field and certainly has big shoes to fill after the departure of Loy. Alex Silver is another sophomore that needs to step up. He played in

Corey Leamon | Daily Texan File Photo

Sophomore catcher Jacob Felts, a .215 hitter last season, was described by fellow sophomore Nathan Thornhill as “the quarterback of the team.”

only 12 games last year, splitting between designated hitter and first base. Now, he will be expected to be a starter on a day-to-day basis at first. These sophomores need to take on bigger roles not only on the field but off of it as well. They will be forced to take on leadership roles early in their collegiate careers. The juniors and seniors paved the way for this class to be successful in 2011 and now it’s time for them to do the

same for this year’s freshmen. “We need to all step up as sophomores and get the freshmen ready,” Weiss said. “We played a lot last year and I think getting the freshmen ready will help them when their time comes.” Aiding the freshmen in maturing quickly will benefit the team, but if the class of 2011 wants to get back to Omaha once again, it will be up to their class to propel them there.


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Friday, February 17, 2012

Texas skipper talks injuries, expectations for 2012

n

Editor’s note: The Daily Texan sat down with Texas head baseball coach Augie Garrido to discuss the upcoming 2012 season. By Christian Corona and Chris Hummer Daily Texan Staff

The Daily Texan: How will your team adjust to losing Sam Stafford and Cohl Walla for the year? Augie Garrido: We have two of our star players from last year that will be out for the season. This is always a big blow for any team, but less of a blow for college players than for professional players because professional players are so experienced at what they’re doing — you can predict pretty well their performances for the year. It’s not like that with the college player. The college player will have a very poor year and a great year, or a great year and a very poor year. The lack of experience with either being highly successful or failing miserably affects the next opportunity they have. With that said, we are extremely disappointed in the fact that we’ve lost a high number of quality innings from Sam Stafford and we’ve lost a leadoff hitter and center fielder that is one of the best in the conference. So one year a long time ago at Fullerton, we had seven outfielders and I told the seventh outfielder after the first semester that he should transfer because he was a good ballplayer but we had six guys ahead of him and he wasn’t going to play. Injuries, as always, came into the picture and he ended being the starting right fielder as conference started. At the end of the conference, he was the MVP of the conference — not of the team — of the conference. So I’ve given up on being able to predict the performances of college baseball players. DT: Nathan Thornhill mostly came out of the bull pen last season. What did you see from him that made you decide to make him the Friday starter? Garrido: How he came out of the bull pen last year. He has a leadership personality. He has the courage and confidence to take the risk to throw a fastball over the plate on the first pitch after the opposing team’s hit a home run. And he’s done all of that over and over again. So that’s what we’re looking for from

Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

Texas head baseball coach Augie Garrido looks on during a practice as the Longhorns prepare for their season opener today against Duke. Garrido, the NCAA Division I all-time leader in wins, has led Texas to the College Worlds seven times in his 15 seasons.

all of our pitchers. They really can’t strike everybody out. They really can’t control the hitter. But they can make quality pitches no matter what happens to them on the pitch before the next one. And he does that. DT: What do you expect from Hoby Milner this year? Garrido: [Thornhill and Milner] very much alike. One’s right-handed and one’s left-handed. They pretty much have the same velocity on their fastball, the same style of pitching using the fastball on both sides of the plate, a bit of a breaking ball and use of a changeup. DT: Are Hoby and Thornhill going to be 1A and 1B this year? Garrido: You don’t know for the whole year. We play the whole season week by week. We take one week at a time for every player. For the position players, it’s usually four games. For the pitchers it’s usually one game. In this game, it’s a game

of falls and recoveries. So we’re not concerned with one fall unless it’s connected to attitude where they quit. Then we’re putting them back on the mound. With the lineup we’re not going to have somebody have a bad game and then jerk them out of the lineup. We take the season week by week, evaluate the performances at the end of the week and start over a brand new season. That’s the way we keep our stats, too. We start over every week. It’s too long of a season to try to predict or set numerical goals like winning 20 games or whatever it is. Go play. Have fun with it. DT: After losing upperclassmen like Sam Stafford and Cohl Walla, do you see some of the sophomores that had big seasons as freshmen stepping up into leadership roles this season? Garrido: We had five freshmen players that were key players on last year’s team. All of them have very fine leadership qualities. So they are stepping into that role and doing a

good job with that. DT: What’s it like having Jordan Etier back on the team after he was kicked off the team for his arrest for marijuana possession and evading arrest? Garrido: Baseball-wise, he’s always been fine. On the field, he’s always hustled. He’s always tried his hardest. He’s always done his best. He’s always been an inspiration to his teammates. It’s been some of his choices off the field that led that. I think that he has been given an opportunity and he recognizes that it’s a life-changing opportunity. He was facing not being able to graduate from the University of Texas and not being able to play on the baseball team — both very important things. Now, he’s been given that opportunity back. Now he has a different view and not taking very many things for granted. He’s making better choices off the field. He’s in a structured environment in his home life now. He’s more detailed

and is making better choices in what he does and how he does it and when he does it. I think he’s very excited about the opportunity to control his own life. DT: What do you think your chances are to get back to Omaha and play in the College World Series again this season? Garrido: It’s way too early to tell. The opportunity to go there is reasonable and realistic for us to know that we can. It’s just how consistently we can play a game of baseball. How consistently can we play an inning of baseball? How well can we play catch? How often? DT: Does Duke have half as good of a baseball team as it does a basketball team? Garrido: No, they have more guys. If they come out here and play basketball, we’re going to beat them. They’ll only have five guys on the field.


First Pitch 02-17-12  

The Feb. 17, 2012 edition of First Pitch.

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