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Big 12 Baseball Preview: Armageddon Weekend is Here

Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship, May 28, 2017

After another fun week, college baseball returns to action as 13 Big 12 teams are hitting the diamond. There are several big-time matchups ahead, so let’s take a look at the top storylines heading into the weekend.

Is TCU Back?

After losing three weekend series in a row, TCU finally got back on track last weekend with a sweep over Houston. While their 5-7 record isn’t where they want to be, it’s better than where they were a week ago. I’ve said it time and time again. This team has the talent to beat anyone. They may be in a bit of a funk offensively, but that shouldn’t stop them from hitting well against Cincinnati who had the worst ERA (6.38) in the Big 12. The Horned Frogs have a chance to get to .500 or better this weekend in conference play, and I fully expect them to do just that.

 

The Reigning Big 12 Player of the Year Returns

Welcome back, JJ Wetherholt. This weekend marks the return of last year’s Big 12 player of the year. He started the season a little slow but then got injured earlier in the year. Well, now he’s back, and he couldn’t have come at a better time. The Mountaineers have the third-worst team batting average in the Big 12 (.263) and have really struggled offensively at times. Plus, their pitching wasn’t as good as it was last year, either. This weekend, they face a much-improved Kansas team. Jacob English and Kodey Shojinaga have been on a tea while the Jayhawks trio on the mound (Patrick Steitz, Dominic Voegele, and Reese Dutton) have been phenomenal.

One More Bedlam

While Oklahoma may still be on top of the Big 12 standings, it’s no secret that things haven’t been going as planned the last two weeks. They dropped a series to West Virginia two weeks ago at home and then got swept by Lamar at home last weekend. Something has to change, and that needs to start this weekend for the Sooners. They have some great hitters in their lineup with guys like Jackson Nicklaus, Easton Carmichael, and Bryce Madron but the pitching has been an issue the last two weeks.

 

On the other hand, Oklahoma State has been on the ride lately. Their pitching has been outstanding, and the bats are starting to produce. In fact, the Cowboys have the best team ERA in the entire Big 12 (3.49), as Brian Holiday has led the way.

Will UCF Emerge?

Coming into the season, most people talked about Kansas State being a Big 12 title contender. However, NOBODY was talking about UCF. After getting swept by Oklahoma during the opening weekend of conference play, the Knights have rolled off three series wins against Kansas, Oklahoma State, and Texas Tech. They are a very balanced team as they are in the top half in nothing hitting and pitching. And keep an eye on Matt Prevesk at the plate.

UCF will have their work cut out for them this weekend because Kansas State has the best offense in the Big 12. The Wildcats are hitting .324 as a team and have scored the second-most runs. They have three guys in their lineup right now, hitting over .300 with Brady Day, Chuck Ingram, and Kaelen Culpepper.

 

Watch out for Texas

No disrespect to BYU, but this series is all about Texas. I put the Longhorns at the top spot of my weekly Big 12 power rankings because I think they are playing the best baseball out of anyone right now. Jared Thomas and Jalon Flores have been hitting the cover off the ball this season. But what has really made them go has been the pitching staff. Max Grubbs has really been a nice addition to their starting rotation as he is posting a 1.87 ERA. This is a weekend where Texas should boost that conference record.

Who wants to get out of the basement?

This series may not get the attention it deserves because of the records but this is a very important weekend for both Houston and Texas Tech. The Cougars are currently in last place in the conference, while the Red Raiders sit at 5-7. While both teams may have similar records in conference, these two teams are a bit different.

Texas Tech has been carried by their offense as they have the second-best team batting average in the conference (.319) yet are giving up 5.35 runs per game. Meanwhile, Houston has the third-best ERA (3.90) but has the second-worst offense in the conference. It’s certainly going to be a clash of styles, but someone is going to come out of this weekend better than they came in.

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