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HCS Op-Ed: West Texas Loves Their Big 12 Baseball. Well, Why Shouldn’t They?

The Red Raiders made their inaugural trip to Omaha last season, making Texas Tech head coach Tim Tadlock look like a genius. Tadlock earned the 2014 College Baseball Hall of Fame Coach of the Year honor in only his second season at the helm of the program.

Tech won just 26 games in 2013, then in 2014 it was a year of magical moments – winning 45 games, winning its first ever NCAA Regional and Super Regional titles and then going to Omaha.

Eric Gutierrez, who returns to Tech for his junior campaign, picked up multiple pre-season awards, including four All-American first or second team nods, and also was named to the Golden Spikes Award watch list.

The junior is one of the most important returners for the Red Raiders in 2015 and has picked right where he left off, batting an impressive .643 with three doubles and four RBIs through the first five games. Following opening weekend, Gutierrez was named the Big 12 Player of the Week and the NCBWA National Hitter of the Week.

Along with Gutierrez starting hot, junior catcher Tyler Floyd has started off well. After batting just .241 last season, he has jumped out to a whopping .455 batting average in the first few games of the season. Also Stephen Smith, Corey Raley and Tyler Neslony have all started about .300 for the year.

Now on the bump, Corey Taylor has started off well, pitching four innings of almost perfect baseball, allowing only one unearned run. Freshman Parker Mushinski has come right in and contributed with five innings of work, turning in a 1.80 ERA over that span.

Also on the mound you cannot discount Dylan Dusek, who went 8-0 for the Red Raiders in 2014 and has started 1-0 this season with a 3.00 ERA; expect big things from him in 2015.

There are many more players that can be listed as impact players for the Red Raiders, but time will tell who will be surprises this season. But you can definitely expect Gutierrez, Floyd, Smith, Raley and Neslony to contribute in big ways.

Texas Tech opened the season beating up on San Francisco before dropping its first mid-weed contest, falling to Nevada on Tuesday, 8-4. Don’t freak out Red Raider fans, the mid-week games have been notorious for most programs, it is the weekend series to focus on.

The Red Raiders are definitely not going anywhere, anytime soon. They are currently ranked No. 8 in the NCWBA poll entering this week, and should remain there for the foreseeable future.

The Big 12 Conference is going to be some of the most exciting baseball in the country to watch in 2015. Consider this: the Big 12 enters this week with five teams ranked in the Top 30, three in the Top 10, which is tied with the ACC and second to only the SEC, which checked in with nine teams.

TCU checked in at No. 3, while Tech was No. 8, Texas at No. 9, Oklahoma State at No. 16 and finally Baylor at No. 27. The current three highest ranked Big 12 teams all went to Omaha last season.

Mark the calendars, April 2-4, Tech and TCU crash, April 10-12 the Red Raiders battle Baylor and then April 24-26, Tech and Oklahoma State play a three-game set. All three series are set to be played at Dan Law Field at Rip Griffin Park in Lubbock, meaning three of the Red Raiders biggest series in 2015 will be played in front of a solid home crowd. And if the opening weekend crowds, 4,000-plus fans for the first three games and more than 3,000 for the Sunday finale, tell anything of what is to come when Big 12 Conference play begins, Lubbock will be the place to be for great Big 12 baseball atmosphere’s all season long.

The Red Raiders to make this season become part of program history: back-to-back trips to college baseball’s promise land – Omaha, Nebraska and the College World Series.

Texas might be the football state. Lubbock loves their football, Kliff Kingsbury and rocking the Jones every Saturday. But times have changed and once February rolls around it’s time to rock the Law.

Texas Tech baseball is here to stay and well … PLAY BALL!!

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