Texas pitcher Jared Southard has had a lot to root for this postseason.
His high school alma mater Rouse made it to the state tournament for the first time in school history, while …
“Having (Texas coach David) Pierce here and the other coaches and guys, it’s the best thing for me,” Southard said. They all got my back and I always have theirs. Just being here and doing anything I can to win. That’s what it’s about here, the same as it was at Rouse, just at another level.”
Southard made the Raiders’ varsity squad as freshmen, but Rouse won just three games all season, ended the year on a 14-game losing streak and didn’t win a district game.
Rouse made a remarkable turnaround after hiring Chad Krempin in 2017, winning the district title in his first season as head coach and making the playoffs in the final three years of Southard’s high school career.
Southard was an All-State pitcher and won District MVP his senior season, striking out 100 batters in 55 innings.
“I don’t a think a whole lot of (the turnaround) was me,” Southard said.“You’ve got people that have a certain kind of aura about them that makes people better. I get that from the coaches at Rouse. They taught me a little more about how to win and what that takes. I took that to heart and made it into something I do every day.”
Southard said Krempin instilling in him and the Rouse program a different focus on keeping the right mentality and focusing on the little things.
That helped the Raiders in their historic season this year. They started the year on a 12-game winning streak but struggled during district play and finished fourth. Rouse eliminated three state-ranked teams that won district championships befogging losing to Hallsville in the state semifinals.
“(Coach Krempin) helped make winning that much more of a priority,” Southard said. “It brought a sense of pride in Rouse. I still feel a tie in that it’s where I came into my own. It’s not always about how perfect you can do everything, it’s about what will you have to win and having pride in the school you go to.”
The Los Angeles Angels drafted Southard with the 601st overall pick in the 20th round of the MLB draft in June 2019, but he elected to stay committed to the Longhorns.
He’s made 15 appearances in his Texas career and pitched 12.1 innings, allowing two runs on five hits with 22 strikeouts.
“I made the right decision coming here, and I love it,” Southard said. “Having people in your corner is the best feeling. It’s about the people you surround yourself with. If you surround yourself with great minds, and competitiveness and people that win, you’ll become that.”
The College World Series got underway last weekend, and Texas was one of the hottest teams going into the tournament, outscoring its opponents 49-12 in the Regionals and Super Regionals and winning five straight games.
For Southard, it comes back to coaching. Why started at Rouse with Krempin is continuing with Pierce and Troy Tulowitzki at Texas.
“You don’t just wake up one day and think you’re the best, you have to have preparation behind it,” he said. “You have to have work and the right mindset behind it. When you do all those things, you can really believe you’re the best because of all those things you’ve done to back it up.”