With Big 12 play starting on Friday for West Virginia, the Big 12 is shaping up to be one of the tougher conferences in America from top to bottom.
The Big 12 is always a staple in college baseball, and this year is no exception. With programs such as Texas, Texas Tech, TCU, and Oklahoma State, it will not be easy for Mazey’s Mountaineers, as they try and compete in conference play.
No. 6 Oklahoma State (18-6)
Oklahoma State is a consistently good baseball program, and it is showing right now. After starting the season 7-6, the Cowboys find themselves on an 11-game winning streak.
The Cowboys have a signature series win, as they took two out of three games at No. 9 Vanderbilt, one of the nation’s strongest programs, who was ranked as the best team in the country at the time.
Oklahoma State has played one series in conference play, and that was their most recent series against Kansas. The Cowboys swept Kansas in that three-game series to keep their winning streak alive.
A player to watch for Oklahoma State is infielder/outfielder Jake Thompson. Thompson can hit at an elite level, as he is batting .389 with 35 hits on the year and 24 RBI’s.
No. 7 Texas Tech Red Raiders (20-5)
The No. 7 ranked Red Raiders have made headlines multiple times this week, as they welcomed No. 8 Texas into town. Texas Tech won game one by stealing home on a walk-off, followed by a walk-off grand slam the next day.
Texas Tech has already seen a nine-game winning streak that was followed later by a seven-game winning streak. Their record speaks for itself, as they simply don’t lose many games.
A player to watch out for is second baseman Jace Jung. Jung is the younger brother of Josh Jung, who was a standout at Texas Tech and is currently a top prospect for the Texas Rangers.
Jung has a .356 batting average with five home runs and 23 runs batted in thus far. The Red Raiders will be a handful in any series, home or away, and they will expect to be atop the Big 12 at year’s end.
No. 8 Texas Longhorns (19-7)
Texas is always near the top of the Big 12, as they have a historically good baseball program. While Texas has a worse record than Texas Tech, that doesn’t quite hint at an off year for the Longhorns. Three of Texas’s seven losses have come to top 25 teams, and other losses have come to good programs such as UCLA and South Carolina.
Texas has also been the only team in the nation to take down No. 1 Tennessee, who currently holds a 23-1 record. The Longhorns also took down No. 13 LSU, so they have plenty of experience heading into league play.
A player to watch out for on Texas’s long list of talent, is infielder Murphy Stehly. Stehly is a stellar hitter, as he has a batting average of .475 across 25 games. Stehly has 27 runs batted in this season and has hit six home runs in his last seven games.
No. 12 TCU (18-5)
The Horned Frogs remain a top team in the Big 12, and they have already gotten out to a fast start in league play. TCU has won four out of five Big 12 games, including a sweep against Kansas State and a series victory at Baylor.
A player to look out for on this team would be third baseman Brayden Taylor. Taylor has a batting average of .359 along with 20 runs batted in and three home runs. Taylor has six hits in six games against Big 12 opponents.
Oklahoma is an interesting team because they have been up and down so far. The Sooners have seen a six-game winning streak but have also seen their share of struggles.
Oklahoma participated in a tournament at Minute Maid Park where they played UCLA, LSU, and Tennessee. Oklahoma went 0-3 in the tournament and lost two games by eight or more runs.
Oklahoma has played one series in Big 12 play and that was against Baylor, where the Sooners picked up two wins in three games.
A player to watch for Oklahoma is infielder/outfielder Tanner Tredaway. Tredaway has a batting average of .312 with 19 runs batted in. Tredaway has 10 hits in his last five games, including five hits against conference rival Baylor.
Baylor has had its share of ups and downs this season, but there have been some good wins on the resume. The Bears participated in the same tournament that Oklahoma did at Minute Maid Park but had more success than the Sooners. Baylor took down No. 13 LSU and UCLA, but fell to No. 1 Tennessee.
The Bears have struggled since opening conference play, going 2-4 against Oklahoma and TCU.
A potentially dangerous hitter to look out for on Baylor’s roster is right fielder Kyle Nevin. Nevin has 21 hits and 19 runs batted in on the season, as well as four home runs.
Kansas State (11-11)
Kansas State started the season 0-5, but evened things out after getting on an eight-game winning streak. The Wildcats now sit at 11-11 on the season as the season starts to ramp up.
In Big 12 play, the Wildcats played one series at No. 12 TCU, in which they got swept in three games.
A player to watch for is centerfielder Cole Johnson. Johnson has a batting average of .310 with 27 hits on the season and 12 runs batted in. Johnson had four hits in three games against TCU, and he may be a strong bat in conference play.
Kansas is the one team in the conference with a losing record thus far, and they have definitely struggled.
The Jayhawks have seen two different four-game losing streaks go by, and they are 0-3 in league play.
A player that might surprise people is shortstop Maui Ahuna. Ahuna had four hits and two runs batted in in the three-game series against No. 12 TCU.