The School: The University of Texas at Austin, also known as “UT.” As a current resident of Texas, I have lots of experience with hating schools that wear orange and call themselves “UT.”
Location: Austin, Texas. When you hear about people fleeing the high prices of California for Texas, literally all of them seem to end up in Austin, which is really the most California-like place you can find in Texas. I am sure this description of Austin will draw reasonable and measured comments in response.
The Mascot: The longhorn. This is the one thing they get right: while there is a costumed mascot, they also just bring out a real, live longhorn to football games.
Record: 47-15, 17-7 in the
SWC Big 12.
How’d they get here? Swept the Austin Regional by winning games against Southern, Arizona State, and Fairfield, then swept the Super Regional with two wins over surprise entrant South Florida. Haven’t lost on their way to Omaha; also haven’t played a team better than Fairfield in the process.
Best win: Surprisingly, for the #2 overall seed, they didn’t do too hot against the Big 12’s other two national seeds, going a combined 3-3 against TCU and Texas Tech in May. For truly strong results, you have to go back to a three-game sweep of the SEC’s South Carolina from March 12-14.
Most embarrassing loss: The Longhorns avoided truly embarrassing losses, which appears to be most of the reason why they got the #2 overall seed. But opening the season by getting chewed up and spit out by a trifecta of SEC teams (Mississippi State, Arkansas, and Ole Miss) in Arlington, by a combined score of 20-4, has to be embarrassing for Texas specifically.
Most terrifying batter: This is a tough call, with really three or four plausible contenders for the title, but I’m going to go with Ivan Melendez, the team leader in home runs (12) and tied for the team lead in batting average (.321.)
Most terrifying pitcher: ... this, on the other hand, is not debatable.
Redshirt sophomore righthander Ty Madden is probably going to be a top-10 pick in this summer’s MLB Draft, and his performance this season is about what you’d expect from a guy with that kind of recognition: 119 strikeouts in 100.2 innings, 67 hits, a 7-4 record, a 2.41 ERA, and a .189 batting average against, and unlike a few college pitchers with that stat line, he’s not some crafty soft-tosser. This is a legitimate talent who’s given up a single run in 12.2 innings of work in the NCAA Tournament, including six scoreless innings with nine strikeouts against South Florida in the supers. Command can be a bit of a problem for him at times, but the dude can also be unhittable.
Best NCAA Tournament result: They’ve won the damn thing six times, and they’ve made the College World Series a record 37 times. This is one of the premier programs in the sport.
Should Vanderbilt Be Scared? Vanderbilt wouldn’t see Texas until the finals, but this is also probably the only team in the College World Series where the answer to this question is an unqualified yes. There’s some smoke and mirrors to the Longhorns’ reocrd this season, but they have one of the few pitchers in the country who’s a match for Kumar Rocker or Jack Leiter, and they also have a pretty good offense to boot.