Big XII Season Preview

2015 Prediction (2014 Record, Conference Record)

  1. TCU (48-18, 17-7)
  2. Texas (46-21, 15-9)
  3. Oklahoma State (48-18, 18-6)
  4. Texas Tech (45-21, 14-10)
  5. Kansas (35-26, 15-9)
  6. Oklahoma (29-29, 8-16)
  7. Baylor (26-31, 8-15)
  8. West Virginia (28-26, 9-14)
  9. Kansas State (25-30, 5-19)

Coming into the season, it isn’t a very bold statement to call the Big XII one of the top conferences in the country. You can usually say that about this conference in every sport. But with four teams in the preseason Top 10 (No.2 TCU, No. 5 Oklahoma State, No. 7 Texas, and No. 9 Texas Tech), it has to be said. In 2014, the conference had four teams make the trip to Omaha, although none of them won it. There should be four really serious contenders again this season with a chance to make the trip in 2015. Kansas is another team that made a regional last year that I think will take another step forward this season. I’m not ready to call them contenders to win the conference, but they are definitely a team that I could see being in the group of 64 going into the NCAA Tournament.

I have TCU winning the conference with Texas taking second, but it wouldn’t surprise me, and shouldn’t surprise anyone, if those two teams end up switched come tournament time. Both could end up hosting all the way to Omaha with the pitching staffs that they bring back to their respective campuses. TCU’s (2.22 team ERA in 2014; 1st in the country in 2014) pitching staff is in the Top 5 in the country with returners like Trey Teakell (RS-SR RHP), Preston Morrison (SR RHP), and Riley Ferrell (JR RHP). Texas (2.25 team ERA; 4th in the country in 2014) also has a Top 5 pitching staff with returners like Parker French (SR RHP), Chad Hollingsworth (JR RHP), and Travis Duke (JR LHP).

The Red Raiders will have an offense that will give pitching coaches nightmares with the return of Eric Gutierrez (JR INF) who led the conference in home runs with 12, Bryant Burleson (JR INF) who led the conference in doubles, and Tyler Neslony (JR OF) who was second in the conference in triples from a year ago. Texas Tech had the third best team batting average in the conference in 2014 at .285. Oklahoma tied with West Virginia for the team lead in batting average last season at .287, and the Sooners have a good base of returners ready to lead the league in hitting again. OU returns sophomore infielder Sheldon Neuse who led the team in doubles, triples, and homers, Hunter Haley (JR OF) who was second in the conference and team in triples (Tied with Neslony from Texas Tech), and sophomore infielder Austin O’Brien who had 30 hits in 40 games (9 for extra bases).

Oklahoma State returns some stud arms and hitters from the team that won the Big XII in 2014. The Pokes return All-Big XII C/OF Gage Green (JR) who was 4th in the conference in stolen bases in 2014 with 20. Also highlighting the list of returners are Tim Arakawa who was in the Top 10 in the conference in Runs Batted In, Stolen Bases, and Walks. OSU returns five position players and 12 members from the pitching staff.

Another great season of college baseball is upon us. February 13th is almost upon us and it will be time to head out to your favorite college ballpark yet again.

Who Gets In? 

Automatic Bid: TCU

National Seeds: (2) TCU and Texas

Other regional sites: Oklahoma State, Texas Tech

Other regional teams: Kansas, Baylor, Oklahoma.

Scott Stone is a Collegiate Baseball correspondent for Baseball Essential

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