Tres Barrera(1) and Kody Clemens(2) celebrate scoring the first run against California during a NCAA college baseball game at Disch-Falk Field, Sunday, March 6, 2015. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)

Baseball

Baseball notebook: Kody Clemens is ready for his first Red River Rivalry

Posted March 31st, 2016

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Kody Clemens is experiencing new beginnings.

First, he transitioned to shortstop, which coincided with his move to No. 2 in Texas’ batting order. Now, this week, he gets to play in his first Red River Rivalry matchup against Oklahoma.

Hoping to continue the momentum they established in last week’s surprise series win over nationally-ranked TCU, the Longhorns (11-14, 2-1) head to Norman for three games beginning Friday.

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Clemens is looking forward to it.

“I’m excited,” Clemens said. “I’ve always been over to the Cotton Bowl to watch football play. It gets super heated all the time and everyone’s fired up. I’m excited to see what it’s like.”

In Friday’s opener, Clemens figures to make his sixth start in a row at shortstop, the position at which he starred in high school at Houston Memorial. He began the year playing third, but supplanted Bret Boswell at short when the Horns restructured their infield after the Tulane series. Clemens has gone 10 straight games without making an error, and since taking over for Boswell at the No. 2 spot, he’s gone 6-for-18 with three RBIs.

“I played shortstop all through high school and all my life,” Clemens said. “It’s natural. It’s not that big of a transition.”

Clemens, who’s hitting .263 on the season, said the team will use Tuesday’s loss 4-2 to Lamar as motivation for this weekend.

“It gives us more fire to come out this weekend and stomp through OU,” he said.

Other Longhorns who will be playing OU for the first time include center fielder Tyler Rand and relief pitchers Chase Shugart and Blake Wellmann.

The matchup: Like Texas, OU came into the season ranked in the top 25 in at least one major poll before dropping out with several early losses.

The low point came in late February during a three-game sweep at Sam Houston State, a team the Longhorns smoked 12-3 on March 8.

After beating Arkansas-Little Rock on Tuesday, the Sooners now stand at 12-13-1 and have yet to win a Big 12 game after being swept at Texas Tech.

Texas will stick with its normal weekend rotation — Morgan Cooper, Ty Culbreth and Kyle Johnston. For OU, RHP Alec Hansen has been removed from the rotation after failing to make it out of the first inning in a loss to Tech. On the year, Hansen, who is thought highly of by scouts, is 0-4 with a 7.65 ERA.

With Hansen working through his issues, the Sooners will have a rotation of three righties — Chris Andritsos (3-2, 3.08), Ryan Madden (1-0, 0.73) and Jake Elliott (0-0, 5.13).

“They’ll be tougher at home,” Texas coach Augie Garrido said. “They usually play better at home. They’ll play better against Texas ’cause of the rivalry involved.”

Garrido is HOF-bound: On Thursday, the National College Baseball Hall of Fame announced its 2016 induction class, which features Garrido, the winningest coach in the history of the sport.

Those joining Garrido in the 2016 class are players JD Drew (Florida State), Matt DeSalvo (Marietta College), Rick Monday (Arizona State) and Tom Paciorek (Houston),  and coaches Bob Braddy (Jackson State) and Tommy Thomas (Valdosta State).

The celebration will take place July 1-2 in Lubbock.

This is Garrido’s second hall of fame honor this year. In January, he was inducted by the National Baseball Coaches Association in Nashville, Tenn.

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