Morgan Cooper (41), left, talks with Michael Cantu (7) between pitches in the first inning of the first game in a series against the Rice University Owls at the University of Texas' UFCU Disch-Falk Field in Austin, Texas on Friday February 17, 2017. Daulton Venglar/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Baseball

Texas set to welcome UConn’s Huskies to town for a weekend-long clash

Posted February 24th, 2017

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The second weekend of Texas’ baseball season will look much like the first.

Texas has announced that it will start juniors Morgan Cooper and Kyle Johnston and freshman Blair Henley during this weekend’s three-game series against UConn at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. Last week, Texas used that trio of right-handers over the first three games of a season-opening set with Rice.

Cooper was solid over his six-inning appearance in Texas’ season opener, but he did not factor in the Longhorns’ 3-2 loss on Feb. 17. Johnston and Henley, however, both picked up wins in the following day’s double-header.

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As a rotation, Texas pitchers have compiled a 3-1 record in their starts this season. Five different hurlers have earned a start, and each of those pitchers lasted at least five innings. Johnston and Henley will both enter the weekend with sub-2.00 ERAs.

“It’s great seeing that, but I feel like we can get a lot better,” Texas catcher Michael Cantu said. “I know they’re not satisfied with their outings… I think we can expect a lot more from this starting pitching staff.”

Opposing Cooper on Friday will be UConn sophomore Tim Cate. The left-handed Cate kicked off the Huskies’ season last week with 13 strikeouts and two hits allowed against UMass Lowell. Recorded over 7 1/3 innings, those 13 strikeouts were a career-high for Cate.

“Their Friday-night starter is a potential first-rounder in next year’s draft,” said David Pierce, the head coach of a Texas team that is hitting .205 with five home runs. “Really tough left-hander with a really power breaking ball. He’s going to be a challenge.”

Coming off of Wednesday’s win at Sam Houston State, Texas (3-2) will host UConn (3-1) at 4 p.m. on Friday. Saturday’s first pitch is set for 2 p.m., and the teams will meet again at 12 p.m. on Sunday. Each of the series’ games will be broadcast on the Longhorn Network.

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