Texas’ Kody Clemens pleasantly surprised by newfound power
Nothing in his first two years at Texas suggested Kody Clemens would blossom into one of the top sluggers in the nation.
The youngest son of seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens has hit six of his Big 12-leading 19 home runs in the last seven games for the regular-season champion Longhorns (37-18). The junior second baseman also leads the conference with a .703 slugging percentage and 147 total bases. He ranks in the top 10 in three other offensive categories.
“I knew I had the capability of doing that, but I didn’t think it was going to be like this, I guess,” Kody Clemens said Monday.
The Big 12 player of the week hit two home runs against TCU on Friday, including a two-run walk-off shot in the ninth inning for a 5-3 win. He homered again in his first at-bat Saturday to start a 7-3 win. The Longhorns have won five straight, and Clemens is batting .412 (14 of 34) as they’ve won seven of eight in May.
Clemens batted .242 with five homers as a freshman. Last year, when he was limited mostly to designated hitter while recovering from Tommy John surgery, he batted .241 with another five homers. He’s raised his average 103 points this season, to .344, and his on-base-plus-slugging is an outstanding 1.140.
“In high school and the beginning of my college career, I didn’t see myself as a power hitter,” Clemens said. “I thought I was a gap-to-gap type of guy, line drives around the field. I went home and got in the weight room and got faster and stronger over the summer, and that has contributed to why I have so many home runs this year.”
The 6-foot, 185-pound Clemens played his first two seasons at Texas with older brother Kacy, a four-year starter at first base. Kacy made it to the College World Series as a freshman in 2014. Roger Clemens reached the CWS twice with Texas, winning the national title in 1983.
Kody Clemens, projected to be taken in the first 10 rounds of the Major League Baseball draft next month, hopes to play in Omaha, too, in what probably will be his final college season.
“It’s pretty cool to know our family has bled burnt orange our whole lives and done what we’ve done for the University of Texas so far,” he said.
IN THE POLLS
Florida (41-15), Oregon State (42-9-1) and Stanford (43-8) remain the top three teams ranked by D1Baseball.com and Baseball America. Stanford moved to No. 1 in the Collegiate Baseball newspaper poll, followed by Florida and Oregon State. The Gators were swept at Mississippi State, their first series loss of the season. The Beavers took two of three at Southern California. The Cardinal earned a road sweep against Washington State and has won five straight.
Top seeds in this week’s major conference tournaments are North Carolina in the ACC, Minnesota in the Big Ten, Texas in the Big 12 and Florida in the SEC. The Pac-12 doesn’t have a tournament; Stanford would clinch the automatic NCAA bid as regular-season champion if it wins one of three at Washington this week. Three teams already have clinched auto bids: Cal State Fullerton (Big West), North Carolina A&T (MEAC) and Texas Southern (SWAC).
Stetson’s 11-game win streak is longest in the nation, and the Hatters’ 41-11 record entering the Atlantic Sun Tournament is a 14-win improvement over last year’s 27-29 record in Steve Trimper’s first season. The Hatters, heading toward their 19th NCAA regional, are in position to host for the first time.
Miami (27-25) goes into the ACC Tournament on a 10-game win streak but likely must win the championship to avoid missing the NCAAs for the second straight year. Jim Morris is winding up his 25th and final year with the Hurricanes. He has led Miami to 13 College World Series, including national titles in 1999 and 2001.
Tennessee Tech closed the regular season with a nation-leading 121 home runs, the most since Auburn had 131 and Georgia Tech had 122 in 2010. The Golden Eagles’ 2.28 homers per game are most since BBCOR bats were introduced in 2011. The Eagles’ 10.8 runs per game are most since New Mexico State averaged 11 in 2009.
PLAYING ALL 9
Samford’s Greg Mula became the second player this season to play all nine positions in a game. The Bulldogs’ regular second baseman did it Saturday in an 8-2 loss to VMI, after the Bulldogs had clinched the No. 2 seed in the Southern Conference Tournament. Texas’ Jake McKenzie played all nine positions against Texas-Rio Grande Valley last month.