What Has Been Learned in 9-0 Start?

The Texas Longhorns are off to their best start since they began the 2005 season with a 16-0 record. Before the team travels to California for a weekend three-game series with Stanford, the Longhorns drive down San Marcos tonight for a 6pm tilt with Texas State. Burnt Orange Beat discusses what can be learned from the hot start and points to reasons to be optimistic.

With last weekend's four-game sweep of the Penn State Nittany Lions, the Texas Longhorns are off to their best start since they began the 2005 season with a 16-0 record.

While the ‘Horns have yet to be tested, there are a handful of reasons to be optimistic.

• Through nine games, the Longhorns defense has made four errors, leading to a .989 fielding percentage. Such an outstanding pace is unlikely to continue, but they do have one of the best defensive infields in college baseball in terms of range, arm, and ability to make the routine play. Last year's Texas club had 19 miscues in its first nine games. They had 11 alone during the three-game Houston College Classic.

• The pitching talent is as deep as it has been during Augie Garrido's tenure at Texas – and almost all of it will be returning for the 2010 season. The Longhorns currently have a team ERA of 1.15.

Brandon Workman, who tossed Texas' 21st no-hitter on Sunday, has surrendered just two hits in 16 innings pitched. Opposing hitters are batting a cumulative .150 against Texas pitching. Although the competition may not be much, the pitchers have all thrown strikes and commanded their pitches well. Given the dominant stuff the five starting pitchers possess, if they all throw strikes with good command, they will have successful seasons.

• The offense has room for improvement – and they likely won't be too powerful this season – but they have been a well-disciplined bunch that puts the ball in play thus far.

A rough weekend at the plate dropped Brandon Belt's batting average to .269, but he still has 10 walks and zero strikeouts on the season. The Longhorns have struck out just 28 times [with 35 walks] in 264 at-bats. Obviously the pace is unlikely to continue against more talented pitching, but it is an encouraging sign. For comparison, also in nine games, the Texas A&M offense has 69 strikeouts and 32 walks in 301 official at-bats.

Texas figures to get its first real next weekend when they travel to Palo Alto to play the Stanford Cardinal. The trip will be the Longhorns' first to Sunken Diamond since 2006, when they lost two-of-three. In fact, Texas has yet to take a series from Stanford in Palo Alto since the ongoing home-and-home began in 1998.

The 2009 series may be Texas' best chance yet to steal a pair of games. Though Stanford was a College World Series participant last summer, they lost most of their offense and all but one starting pitcher off that club.

The Cardinal are off to a 2-5 start, including a midweek lost to Saint Mary's and a three-game road sweep at the hands of Cal State Fullerton. Perhaps the best news for the ‘Horns is that Stanford is having its share of problems offensively. The Pac 10 club scored only six runs in their series against Fullerton, and they have a cumulative .236 team batting average.

Stanford is still a dangerous and talented team – especially at home, where they took a series from Vanderbilt two weeks ago – but the ‘Horns have an excellent opportunity to pick up their first ever series win in the South Bay.

Before the team travels to California, the Longhorns drive down San Marcos tonight for a 6pm tilt with Texas State.

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