NCAA Baseball

Big 12 Baseball Tournament preview: What to look forward to

Big 12 Baseball Tournament preview: What to look forward to

The stage has been set for the 2018 Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Tournament at the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.

With the end of the regular season this past weekend, eight Big 12 teams notched themselves a spot in the Big 12 Tournament for a chance at the title of Big 12 Tournament Champions, but the University of Texas claimed the title of Big 12 Champions with a final sweep over TCU combined with a Texas Tech victory over the Oklahoma State Cowboys on Saturday, May 19.

Media, coaches and players gathered at Mickey Mantle’s in downtown Oklahoma City where all eight coaches made opening statements regarding the tournament, and every coach paid tribute and shared stories of the late Augie Garrido.

Game times and seeds have been announced for the tournament as all eight teams prepare for a week of competition.

No. 8 – Kansas

The Kansas Jayhawks finished the regular season at 26-28, 8-15 in the Big 12 and come in as the No. 8 seed. The Jayhawks finished with a batting average of .278, had a total of 44 home runs, and combined for 301 RBI’s.

Six Jayhawk players snagged All-Big 12 recognition to close out the regular season, including sophomore RHP Ryan Zeferjahn with a second-team recognition, and honorable mentions to second baseman James Cosentino, reliever Ryan Cyr, catcher Jaxx Groshans, left fielder Devin Foyle, and closer Zach Leban.

Head coach of the Jayhawks, Ritch Price, spoke on behalf of his team at the media luncheon to kick off the week, and is serving as the head coach for Kansas baseball for a 15th season.

Kansas will start the week tomorrow in Game Two of Session One against the Texas Longhorns with a first pitch set for 12:30 p.m.

No. 7 – West Virginia

The West Virginia Mountaineers close out the regular season 27-25, 9-15 in the Big 12 and will fall into the No. 7 seed for the Big 12 Tournament.

West Virginia’s Kyle Gray came in as No. 3 in the Big 12 for batting with an average of .364 hitting 14 home runs and reeling in 37 RBI’s. Sophomore Marques Inman also broke the top 1o coming in at No. 10 for batting with a .333 average, 6 home runs and 38 RBI’s.

Mountaineers Head Coach Randy Mazey has held the position for six years and led the Mountaineers in 2017 to its first postseason appearance in 21 years.

West Virginia opens up play tomorrow in Game Three of Session Two against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at 4:00 p.m. at the Bricktown Ballpark.

No. 6 – TCU

The TCU Horned Frogs end the regular season with a 30-22 overall record, 10-13 in the Big 12 and notch the No. 6 seed for the Big 12 Tournament.

TCU junior Sean Wyler cracked the top 10 in pitching coming in at No. 7 with a 3.80 ERA, a 5-3 record and 65 strikeouts. TCU overall ranked N0. 2 in team pitching and No. 7 in team batting.

Head coach of the Horned Frogs for 15 years now, Jim Schlossnagle is TCU’s all-time winningest coach for baseball.

“Our season certainly hasn’t gone as well as the last few seasons,” Schlossnagle said. “But we have been playing well before we went down to Austin,” Schlossnagle laughed as he joked about the success of the Texas Longhorns.

TCU will begin play against Texas Tech in the final game of tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. in Bricktown.

No. 5 – Baylor

The Baylor Bears hold the No. 5 seed entering the tournament after finishing 32-19 in the regular season, and 13-11 in the Big 12.

The Bears come in at No. 2 in team batting with a .291 average, a total of 507 hits, 46 home runs and a combined 303 RBI’s. Baylor’s Cody Bradford was awarded the Big 12 Pitcher of the Year award with an ERA of 2.60, a 6-5 record and 75 strikeouts.

Steve Rodriguez is serving his third season as head coach of the Bears, and was Big 12 Coach of the Year for 2017.

“The Bears at the beginning of this season -we had no identity. We had no idea who we were,” Rodriguez said. “I think every coach can side with that when you start a season. You have an idea about what you think your team is going to be, and then all of a sudden you start playing, and you’re like ‘well that’s not it.'”

The Bears faced some tough losses this season, but Coach Rodriquez said he looks forward to talking with everyone this week and getting back to business.

“There’s a reason why you have three teams from this Big 12 that have been to Omaha in a competitive way,” Rodriguez said. “It’s because of the quality of the athletes and the quality of the coaches, but the biggest thing is the quality of this conference.”

Baylor will face the Oklahoma Sooners in Game One of Session One tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m.

No. 4 – Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Sooners come in as the No. 4 seed finishing the regular season with a 34-21 record overall, 14-10 in the Big 12.

The Sooners hold the No. 3 spot in the Big 12 for team pitching averaging an ERA of 3.87, a 34-21 record and combining for 535 strikeouts. Junior Steele Walker ranks No. 5 in the conference for individual batting with an average of .352, 76 hits, 13 home runs, and bringing in 53 RBI’s. Walker was also named one of three finalists in the Big 12 for the 2018 Gold Spikes Award.

Skip Johnson, head coach of OU baseball, was announced to the head coach position in June 2017 and led the Sooners to its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2013 in his lone season at OU.

“This year has been about learning,” Johnson said. “We played great conference, played great non-conference. It’s been a great year, and that’s about all I have to say. I’m looking forward to the tournament, and we’re going to pitch the pitch.”

The Sooners are first up tomorrow against the Baylor Bears with the first pitch set for 9:00 a.m.

No. 3 Texas Tech

The Texas Tech Red Raiders finished the season with a sweep over Oklahoma State in Stillwater and ended with a 38-15 overall record, finishing 15-9 in the Big 12.

The Red Raiders have been dominant at the plate this season ranking No. 1 in team batting averaging .311, combining for 572 hits, 71 home runs and 424 total RBI’s.

Texas Tech infielder Josh Jung was also named one of three semifinalists for the 2018 Golden Spikes Award, ranks No. 1 in the conference for individual batting and leads the Big 12 in runs scored with 62 runs along with 84 hits.

Tech infielder Gabe Holt picked up the award for Freshman of the Year with a .341 average, 27 stolen bases and 74 hits.

Head Coach of the Red Raiders Tim Tadlock is in his sixth season with Texas Tech, and led the Red Raiders to back-to-back Big 12 Championship titles in 2016 and 2017.

Texas Tech will face TCU at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow evening to begin the race to the title of Big 12 Tournament champions.

No. 2 – Oklahoma State

The reigning Big 12 Tournament champions return to Bricktown after ending the regular season with a 29-22-1 overall record, going 16-8 in the Big 12.

Junior infielder Matt Kroon transferred to Oklahoma State from Central Arizona Community College for his junior year and picked up Newcomer of the Year with a batting average of .296 and 58 hits. Kroon also picked up 11 home runs in 51 games, and had 28 runs along with 12 doubles.

A native of Stillwater and Oklahoma State University, Head Coach Josh Holliday was named to the position in 2012 and has led the Cowboys to five-straight NCAA appearances, the program’s first-ever regular season title and a return to the College World Series since his playing days in 1999.

“I think this is going to be an amazing tournament,” Holliday said. “When you look at both four-team brackets, it’s basically regional play all day long. I know this tournament can bring out the very best in your team, bring out the very best in your players, and it can provide an amazing opportunity for future moments.”

Oklahoma State will face off against West Virginia tomorrow afternoon at 4:00 p.m.

No. 1 – Texas

The Texas Longhorns claimed the title of regular-season Big 12 Champions after a sweep over TCU in Austin, while Oklahoma State fell to Texas Tech in three-straight games. The Longhorns finish the season 37-18 overall, 17-7 in the Big 12

Kody Clemens was acknowledged by coaches and national media with his dominant performance throughout the year where he was named a finalist for the 2018 Golden Spikes Award, led the Big 12 with 19 home runs and 61 RBI’s, and he was named Player of the Year; the first Texas player to receive this honor since Kyle Russell in 2007.

Head Coach of the Longhorns, David Pierce, also gathered accolades with the award of Big 12 Coach of the Year.

“I’m really proud of our team and proud to be represented with this group of coaches,” Pierce said. “Everybody is prepared week in and week out, and that’s just how the Big 12 is.”

Texas will go head to head with the Kansas Jayhawks tomorrow at 12:30 p.m.

NCAA Baseball

Graduated from Oklahoma State University; Have been covering college sports and the Oklahoma City Thunder for two years as a reporter and a videographer for 107.7 The Franchise.

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