Top Storylines for Opening Conference Weekend

Heartland College Sports – An Independent Big 12 Today Blog

After a fun third 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 six storylines heading into the weekend.

Can TCU Stay Undefeated?

So far, the biggest storyline in the Big 12 is TCU. The Horned Frogs are off to a hot start this season, as they are 13-0. It seems like they have played a ton of close games yet still find ways to win. This weekend, they will head to Lawrence to take on a feisty Kansas team. The Jayhawks have a pair of star players, Jake English and Lenny Ashby, and they have actually been surprisingly good on the mound so far. But they have yet to face a team like TCU that has bats up and down the roster. I am going to be interested to see the pitching in this series go up against some solid bats.

 

Runs Will be Scored in Lubbock

We get an absolute treat this weekend in Lubbock as the Longhorns head there to take on Texas Tech for possibly the final time before their move to the SEC. To be honest, neither Texas nor Texas Tech have impressed me a ton on the mound this season. Both teams will give up runs, and I expect this series to be a high-scoring affair. There are so many great offensive players in this series, and it’s not even funny. Texas has guys like Jared Thomas, Porter Brown, Peyton Powell, and Jaylin Flores, while Tech has Damian Bravo, Gavin Kash, TJ Pompey, and Owen Washburn. I had to leave out some guys for both teams because they have so much offensive firepower. 

How Good are Oklahoma and UCF?

I knew that the Sooners had some good talent coming into the season and thought they could be the surprise team this year in the conference. However, UCF has been one of the teams that have surprised me the most so far. The Knights have won nine out of their first ten games this season, and Andrew Estrella has been the guy for them on the plate. But I am going to be curious to see how UCF’s pitching holds up against Oklahoma’s lineup, which has six guys batting over the .300 mark.

 

Kansas State Needs a Big Weekend

Earlier this season, Kansas State was ranked inside the top 25 before falling out last week. Their problem? Pitching. They currently have the worst ERA in the Big 12 (6.22), and their opponent (Cincinnati) has the second worst (6.17). With poor pitching between both teams, it will be up to the bats of Kansas State to get the job done. Kaelen Culpepper, Brady Day, Brendan Jones, and Jayden Lobliner have gotten off to hot starts this season, and that will need to continue for the Wildcats to take care of business this weekend at home.

Can Houston Capitalize Against Baylor?

Not to be rude, but Baylor isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire right now. They have some injuries right now, so I look for this as an opportunity for Houston to win their first conference series in the Big 12. The Cougars showed flashes last weekend in the Astros Foundation College Classic, and I am wondering if that can carry over and become more consistent. Justin Murray has been as good as advertised for the Cougars, and they have some good pieces around him, including Tre Jones and Ace Reese. Plus, they have had some solid pitching to help out.

 

Will the Big 12 Player of the Year Make His Return?

It’s been over two weeks since JJ Wetherholt has been in the lineup for West Virginia. Since then, the Mountaineers have been up and down, and their lineup certainly lost that spark they had. Right now, the Mountaineers have the worst team batting average in the conference (.257), and JJ could certainly help get things going if he’s healthy. This weekend, West Virginia hosted BYU, which has also had its fair struggles on the plate (.259 team batting average). Outside of Kuhio Aloy and Easton Jones, the Cougars haven’t had a ton of great hitters.

Other Series

Mercer at Oklahoma State