HOUSTON — For Texas Southern Baseball, the game plan is no secret.
“We try to jab you, you know, we're not trying to be Mike Tyson,” said head coach Mike Robertson.
In other words, there are no power hitters here, so these Tigers swipe bases. Lots of ‘em. Now, it’s a race to the finish line.
Texas Southern is averaging nearly four-and-a-half stolen bases per game. If that trend continues, they will finish in the top ten…in the history of college baseball.
The Division I record is 5.47 set back in 1976 by Howard University, according to the NCAA. The Tigers are at 4.41 during their final series of the regular season.
“We really never thought about the records,” said Jonathon Thomas, an outfielder from Fresno. “We just like to play our game.”
Thomas is the best at it in the entire country.
“If I see I can take it, I'm gonna take it,” he added.
He leads all of Division I in stolen bases with 60 in 49 games, per the NCAA.
“[Opposing teams] know what we can do. They try to stop us, but they can't,” said Thomas.
He has the freedom to run on nearly any pitch.
“Yeah, we always have the green light,” said Tyrese Clayborne, an infielder/outfielder.
They all do.
“Coach Rob, he really gives us a green light, because he has a lot of trust in this. So, we just tried to use it to our advantage,” said Justin Cooper, an infielder.
“From the time we recruit them, you know, we let them know that 85% of our steals are not on signals,” added Robertson.
But proper technique is stressed over and over. And there’s always a good back-and-forth over who’s the fastest.
It’s a running joke, naturally, among the best base stealers in the country.