AUSTIN (KXAN)–The bench or, in baseball, the dugout can be a great motivator for players, but it can also work the other way.
Longhorns sophomore designated hitter Ivan Melendez was in and out of the lineup, starting 17 of their first 25 games. Prior to Friday’s game, Melendez was batting .263 with one home run and 12 RBI.
That’s when head coach David Pierce decided to put Melendez’s mind at ease.
“When we were at KU I said this is our lineup Ivan, you’re in there, settle in, you’re going to play these three games, so go have good at bats,” Pierce said Wednesday night.
To say Melendez has taken advantage of that is the understatement of the season.
In the last five games, Melendez is 14-21 (.666) with three home runs and 9 RBI. Melendez is now second on the team behind Mitchell Daly (.380) with a .372 batting average, third in RBI and tied for third in home runs.
“I just kept everything the same, I just took a little pressure off myself,” said Melendez. “I was slumping for a little bit, there was a game where I just had that attitude of how worse can I get, so just took step back, working on my breathing and sticking to my work and trusting it.”
Melendez was lightly recruited out of Coronado High School in El Paso, so he went to Odessa College. He was named junior college All-American his freshman season hitting .411 with 17 home runs and was hitting .354 in his COVID-19 shortened sophomore season.
As good as the numbers were, a recommendation from former Longhorns great Omar Quintanilla also factored into the recruiting process.
“It was a great combination that we needed a power bat, Omar gave him a great endorsement and he was ready to move on,” said Pierce.
Pierce is hoping that Melendez and the Longhorns can continue their hot play as they take a five-game win streak into this weekend’s series against Kansas State. Texas is sitting in second place in the Big 12 at 7-3, trailing 6-0 TCU while Kansas State is 2-4 in Big 12 play but those two wins were last weekend when they took two out of three against Texas Tech.
Kansas State at Texas
Friday at 6:30 p.m.
Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
Sunday at 1 p.m.