Big 12 baseball is back and let’s get into our good, bad and ugly from the opening weekend of action!
Texas schools starting with the letter “T”
Texas, TCU, and Texas Tech all combined for a perfect 10-0. Not only did they start 10-0, but each one did so in a way that would capture the eye’s attention.
TCU was, by far, the most impressive. The Big 12 currently owns a 3-0 record against the SEC thanks to the Horned Frogs. TCU embarrassed Kentucky by outscoring the Wildcats 22-7 over the weekend. Jim Schlossnagle’s program has dropped at least one game in each of its previous two opening weekends. After four straight trips to the College World Series, they have endured two seasons that aren’t exactly up to TCU standards. They did make it to a regional one season ago, but they had to battle to get there. Horned Frogs fans really couldn’t ask for a better start here.
Texas went to Reckling Park in Houston to sweep Rice. Now, Rice isn’t the same program from its peak Wayne Graham days. The program, which won a National Championship in 2003, is coming off two consecutive losing seasons and hasn’t been to a Super Regional since 2013. Still, Texas went on the road and swept a school most known for its success in baseball. This is an excellent resume builder and should be 9-0 when they return to Houston for the Shriners College Classic. The tournament will pit three Big 12 teams against three SEC teams this year. The Friday night finale is going to be Texas vs. LSU. It will be a packed lower bowl at Minute Maid Park.
Texas Tech was the least impressive. They beat up on Houston Baptist and Northern Colorado at home. Yes, finishing 4-0 will almost always place you in the good. However, this wasn’t your typical four-game sweep. Texas Tech downright destroyed these two teams. On Saturday alone, Tech outscored opponents 46-7. During the weekend, Tech outscored opponents 65-11. This includes a Sunday run-rule in which the Red Raiders clobbered Northern Colorado 14-3 in seven innings. It does get a tad bit tougher for Tech next week in Round Rock. Tim Tadlock can’t ask for a much better start though. I mean, someone’s probably thinking about shutouts right now, but it’s difficult for pitchers to stay warm during innings of 10 runs, six runs, five runs and four runs. The Red Raiders will happily surrender a run or two while their pitcher gets warmed up again.
The Sooners took down a program that is five years removed from a National Championship to start their season. Not only that, but they did this on a neutral site. It’s quite the resume builder. Additionally, the Sooners played error-free baseball. It did take a full day for the bats to wake up, but once they did, it was all Sooners. Oklahoma outscored Virginia 12-3 during the final two games of the weekend. The Sooners also doubled the Cavaliers in the hit column during the final two days. Oklahoma looks to keep the bats hot throughout six games in the next week. They’ll need the momentum when they roll into the Shriners College Classic.
Road series against small conference teams in the southeast
It never seems to fail. When Kansas and West Virginia go on the road to start the season, it seems like they drop at least one questionable game. Typically, they finish the weekend with a losing record. Both teams made their annual trip southeast this weekend. For West Virginia, they dropped one game at Jacksonville. The Atlantic Sun isn’t a bad conference. After all, they do have an advantage with multiple teams located in Florida. Stetson even hosted a regional in 2018. On the other hand, this is the type of stuff that holds a program like West Virginia back. The Mountaineers are on the rise. When they drop a game to an Atlantic Sun school though, they have to do extra work to make people forget about it.
Kansas, on the other hand, lost to Belmont. The Bruins haven’t been a regional since 2012. This is a program coming off two consecutive losing seasons. Yes, the Jayhawks won the series. Kansas is a program that typically drops these early season games though. This is what hurts them when the committee makes their selections.
Neither loss is horrible. Both teams won a series on the road. There are plenty of positives here. These losses could be the difference between them being classified in one tier as opposed to another tier.
Oh. My. God. Thank goodness for the Texas schools that start with a T. First off, Oklahoma was held to two hits against Virginia. Baylor allowed a 9-spot in their first inning of a 19-9 display of humiliation to former Big 12 powerhouse Nebraska. As if those performances weren’t embarrassing enough, the WAC went 2-0 against the Big 12. Grand Canyon, who has actually proven to be competitive at baseball, dominated Oklahoma State. Now for the truly embarrassing performance. Kansas State managed one hit against UT Rio Grande Valley. This is a program where two misfits that no one cared about came together and got married. UT Rio Grande Valley is the equation of UT Pan America (yes, that one Division 1 school no one ever cared or talked about) and UT Brownsville (a school that played in the Red River Athletic Conference of the NAIA and never could get past Texas Wesleyan for the conference title). UT Pan American hasn’t been to an NCAA Regional since 1986. This is a bad program and the Wildcats managed just one hit off of them on Opening Day. This also happened to be the day Kansas dropped a game to Belmont. Overall, the Big 12 finished 4-5 on day one.
Playing the WAC
Aside from Texas Tech’s domination of Northern Colorado, this was a total dud. The WAC dominated the Big 12. Oklahoma State dropped an opening weekend series against Grand Canyon. Kansas State enters Monday with a 1-2 record against UT Rio Grande Valley. As mentioned above, the Wildcats managed just one hit against the Vipers on Opening Day. In the series, UTRGV has outscored Kansas State 10-7. Let’s all pray Kansas State wins Monday. If not, I might just place Iowa State ahead of the Wildcats in the power rankings. For those wondering what is so embarrassing about that, Iowa State doesn’t sponsor baseball.
Congratulations, Cyclones fans. Kansas State’s horrible performance this weekend put you into the conversation.
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