Texas Longhorns fans have to be feeling pretty good right now after their basketball team agreed to a deal to bring in Shaka Smart as head coach. I'm sure Oklahoma State fans don't want to talk about basketball right now, good thing the No. 11 Cowboys (19-9, 4-2 in Big 12) host the Longhorns in a three-game series this weekend at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium.
The Longhorns are currently 17-12 on the year and 5-1 in conference play, although it has lost four consecutive games after being swept in three-game non-conference series against Nebraska. This will be the first Big 12 road series for the Longhorns this season.
Texas is led by head coach Augie Garrido who is in his 18th season at the helm in Austin. This coaching legend has been to the College World Series eight times, including national championships in 2002 and 2005. Garrido also has the distinction of being the winningest head coach in college baseball history since he won his 1,428th game in 2003.
There is no question that the Longhorns are led on offensive by junior outfielder Ben Johnson who is hitting a team-leading .379 this season. Johnson has also added three home runs and is second on the team with 19 RBI's in his 29 games played this season.
Projected pitching matchups
Friday: Parker French (2-2, 2.16 ERA) vs. Jon Perrin (2-3, 4.55 ERA)
Saturday: Chad Hollingsworth (3-2, 4.36 ERA) vs. Remey Reed (2-0, 0.42 ERA)
Sunday: Kacy Clemens (2-1, 3.66 ERA) vs. Michael Freeman (5-0, 1.32 ERA)
The most intriguing pitching matchup has to be Sunday with Freeman pitching against Clemens. Freeman has won the last two Big 12 Pitcher of the Week awards after nearly throwing a no-hitter last Sunday and Clemens is the son of pitching legend Roger Clemens. Not to mention this game, along with Saturday's will be nationally-televised on ESPNU.
Keys to victory
Jon Perrin needs to better than he has been so far this season (4.55 ERA) for the Cowboys to start the series on the right foot. Although he has struggled, the Cowboys have won in three of his last five starts. A strong outing from the staff ace will go a long way in this series.
With Donnie Walton healthy both the Cowboys offense and Defense should be strengthened. Walton provides experience that Jacob Chappell just didn't have defensively and his ability to move runners over will be a great service to an offense that can struggle against the top-tier it will face this weekend.
This weekend will be a great chance for the Cowboys to show a national audience that they are the team to beat in the Big 12. Having already beat TCU in a series, knocking off Texas will be another green check mark on the Cowboys 2015 resume.