The Big 12 Conference is slated for another excellent baseball season. After seven of the nine participating schools were selected into the NCAA Regionals in 2017, the conference placed four teams into the preseason d1baseball.com top 25 poll.
Having four teams in the poll places the Big 12 in a tie for the second most teams with the Atlantic Coast Conference. The SEC notched eight teams in the season’s opening poll. Of course, both the of those conferences have 14 teams a piece. With just nine teams in the Big 12, 44.4 percent of the schools are in the preseason rankings. Three more received votes in the Collegiate Baseball rankings, which were released in December.
Texas Tech is the clear favorite this season, being voted into the top five in both of the polls released so far. After opening at No.5 in the Collegiate Baseball poll in December, Tech scored a No.3 ranking in d1baseball.com’s poll. 2014 National Coach of the Year Tim Tadlock has turned Tech into a team that doesn’t rebuild, but rather reloads. One key returner is 2017 National Pitcher of the Year, Steven Gingery.
It’s no surprise that TCU returns to the top 10 after a somewhat disappointing end to their 2017 campaign. Make no mistake, TCU had an amazing season and reached a fourth-straight College World Series. However, they were the unanimous preseason No.1 and lost in the semifinals to Florida. Part of this can be pointed to the season-ending injury Luken Baker suffered trying to make a catch at first base against Oklahoma. Baker and TCU starting pitcher Jarod Janczak were named preseason All-Americans by Collegiate Baseball. That same publication also placed TCU at No.9 while d1baseball.com has the Horned Frogs at No.7.
One other team made it into both polls: the Texas Longhorns. Collegiate Baseball has them in the top 30, as Texas checked in at No.26. D1baseball.com has the group in burnt orange at No.21 in their poll. Second year skipper David Pierce did a phenomenal job in 2017 leading the Longhorns back to relevancy and into an NCAA Regional. Last season, the pitching staff carried the team on its back. Late in the season, Texas started producing offense. Pierce has now had a full offseason to make the bats produce more consistent results.
West Virginia cracked the d1baseball.com top 25 rankings after one of the more interesting 2017 campaigns. The Nomads played their first 19 games outside of their home state. By season’s end, they managed to play 40 games away from the friendly confines. Despite this, they earned a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Regional and made it to the finals before host Wake Forest eliminated them. This team is returning 23 letterman returning. If that’s not scary enough for you, the legendary Dave Serrano is now on Randy Mazey’s coaching staff. For those who don’t know, Serrano has led two different Big West teams to the College World Series (UC Irvine and Cal State Fullerton) and spent the past six seasons as Tennessee’s head coach.
The other team to crack the Collegiate Baseball poll is Oklahoma State. The Cowboys got hot at the right time and won the Big 12 Conference, earning them a spot in the NCAA Regional. Josh Holliday’s team is ranked No.27 in that poll.
Oklahoma, West Virginia and Baylor all received votes in the Collegiate Baseball poll.