Top Five Storylines for the Second Weekend of Conference Play

Heartland College Sports – An Independent Big 12 Today Blog

After a fun fourth 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 five storylines heading into the weekend.

Is Oklahoma for Real?

Despite having a rough Tuesday night against in-state rival Oklahoma State, the Sooners are coming off a nice weekend sweep against UCF. Oklahoma showed their offensive firepower in that series. The Sooners have six guys in their lineup batting over the .300 mark(Carmichael, Spikerman, Pettis, Nicklaus, Madron, and Snyder) and have the second-best team average in the Big 12 (.329). However, their pitching still has work to do, and TCU’s lineup is very dangerous with guys like Chase Brunson, Kurtis Byrne, and Karson Bowen.

 

Both teams are proven at the plate, but the question will be which starting rotation can get the most out of its guys. This is a huge series for both teams, as Oklahoma looks to establish itself as a contender while TCU is looking for a weekend series win after falling to Kansas last weekend.

What can we Learn About Oklahoma State?

After getting off to a slow start to the season, the Cowboys have now won seven out of their last nine games. The reason? The pitching. Oklahoma State always has the bats to compete with anyone, but the pitching is what has been keeping them from getting to that next level. As of late, they have seemed to figure some things out. Gabe Davis, Brian Holiday, Janzen Keisel, and Sam Garcia have been excellent over the last two weeks, and it will be interesting to see them go against UCF, which has six players (Prevesk, Zyska, Boedicker, Estrella, Sundean, and Brate) hitting over .300.

Texas Tech Needs a Bounce-Back Weekend

Just when I started buying into Texas Tech, they let me down. We all know just how good they are offensively. They have the best team average in the conference (.351) and have scored over 200 runs already this season. However, I need to see more from their pitching staff. Their starters were absolutely torched last weekend against Texas, and it seems like time and time again, pitching has been their Achilles heel. They should look a lot better this weekend, considering the fact that Baylor has the second-worst offense in the Big 12.

 

Can Houston Stay in First?

The Cougars got off to a great start in conference play last weekend when they swept Baylor. Now, they will face another team at the bottom of the Big 12 in BYU. While I like some of the hitters they have in the lineup (Justin Murray, Tre Jones, Ace Reese, and Kenneth Jiminez), their pitching is what has really caught my attention. Houston has the best ERA (3.42) in the Big 12 right now, and they have gotten some tremendous performances out of their starters. Especially with Antoine Jean and Duncan Howard, who have been lights out so far this year. This rotation should have a big weekend against a lackluster BYU offense.

Can Kansas Win Another Weekend?

After upsetting a top-five TCU team, the Jayhawks now set their sights on a bad Cincinnati team. They will be on the road this weekend, and it will be interesting to see how they respond after a big weekend last week. Much like Houston, they have surprised me quite a bit after getting off to a rough start. Jake English, Lenny Ashby, John Nett, and Kodey Shojinaga have been excellent, and so have Michael Brooks and Collier Cranford. To go alongside their offense, the starting pitching has also been solid with Reese Dutton and Patrick Steitz. If Kansas can go 3-0 this weekend, that would put them in a great position to be in the top three heading toward the end of March.