Five Big 12 Conference teams will continue their quest for a National Championship Friday after being selected to compete in the NCAA Regionals.
Three teams (Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, West Virginia) knew their fate Sunday when they were selected as a regional host. TCU and Baylor found out during Monday’s Selection Show that they have been granted an opportunity to continue competing. In the end, 56 percent of the conference will be in this year’s field. It also ties the record for the most hosting bids the conference has had. 33 percent of the Big 12 earned a hosting bid. The last time three teams hosted was in 2008 when Big 12 baseball had Missouri, Nebraska and Texas A&M. TCU was in the Mountain West while West Virginia was in the Big East.
TCU likely entered the Big 12 Championship outside the bubble, but played their way in by advancing to the finals. The Horned Frogs were considered one of the last four teams in. This comes after a one-year absence. Prior to a severely disappointing 2018 campaign, TCU had advanced to the College World Series four consecutive years. The “Toad To Omaha” campaign will start as a three seed in the Fayetteville Regional. Their first opponent will be against Cal. Other teams in the Fayetteville Regional include Central Connecticut State and No.5 Arkansas.
Baylor will play at Jackie Robinson Stadium in the Los Angeles Regional, a regional that head coach Steve Rodriguez is quite familiar with. The former College World Series MVP won the 1992 National Championship when he played for Pepperdine, and also had a successful tenure as a head coach there. The current Baylor roster features seven players from California, mostly from the Southern California region. This regional may benefit Baylor’s future from a recruiting standpoint. If you don’t think there’s a storyline between Baylor and Loyola Marymount, think again. The Lions are based in Santa Monica and have been Coach Rodriguez’s No.1 rival in the PCH Cup for many years. Daniel Caruso’s brother also played at Pepperdine, so there is plenty of motivation for some Baylor Bears to beat Loyola Marymount. Also in the regional will be Omaha and top overall seed UCLA.
Texas A&M likely exhaled when the Lubbock Regional and the Stillwater Regional were announced. However, the NCAA likes to keep things intriguing and still sent the Aggies to a Big 12 school. Entering championship weekend, West Virginia was a No.2 seed and Texas A&M was a regional host. The two traded places and now the Aggies will fly to Pittsburgh and make the scenic hour-plus drive. While there are storylines regarding No.15 West Virginia’s first hosting bid since 1955 and a former Big 12 foe in this regional, the Mountaineers will want to get past Fordham first. Also in this regional is Duke.
Allie P. Reynolds Stadium was selected as a host site, but its likely seen its final game. No.9 Oklahoma State moved its regional to Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City after concerns about field conditions at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium. Now, Oklahoma State’s players will not be the brightest of the bunch. That’s okay though. Harvard likely won’t pull off the upset as the pokes’ first opponent. Once they get past the brainiac Crimson squad, they’ll play either UConn or former Big 12 rival Nebraska. If Oklahoma State wins their regional, it could guarantee the Big 12 a team in the College World Series for the sixth consecutive season. That’s because the Oklahoma City Regional is paired up with the Lubbock Regional.
No.8 Texas Tech now holds the longest active streak of hosting bids. Advancing out of the Lubbock Regional will not be an easy task, and if the trend continues they are expected to fail this season. The Red Raiders have advanced to Omaha every other year since 2014. In 2015, the failed to make a regional. In 2017, Sam Houston State upset Tech twice in the Regional Finals to eliminate the Red Raiders. Will Texas Tech buck this trend and make it to the Super Regionals in consecutive seasons for the first time in program history? To do so, they must get past Army, Florida and Dallas Baptist. Army will probably be a scrappy team, but should not be able to hang with the Red Raiders. Florida shouldn’t even be in the field of 64, and is lucky they are even playing. Meanwhile, Dallas Baptist is a lot like the 2017 Sam Houston State team. In fact, the Patriots are probably better than that team. Look out for Dallas Baptist as the obstacle in between Tech and the Super Regionals. Dallas Baptist notched 41 wins this season and sport a 14-9 road record. Although they are 3-5 against the Big 12 this season, only one of those victories come on the road. It’s likely Tech wins the regional, but this will not be a gimme by any means.
The action starts Friday.
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