What an, ummm, interesting year for Cowboys baseball. In the end we finished 4th, which, all things considered, is pretty good. Did we falter down the stretch- yes, but I think we need to put this season in perspective. First, three weeks ago at best we could have finished 3rd, so we didn't fall to far. Second, this is the first time we have even made the Big 12 tourney in 2 years, which is a huge improvement over last year. I was surprised we lost two against Tech, however, we have not played well on the road, so it probably shouldn't surprise anyone. What does both surprise and worry me is how we have ended the season. We went from 10-5 a few weeks ago to 14-12 to finish. Now I'm no math wiz, but I believe that means we ended the season 4-7. We should have taken the Baylor series and we probably should have taken the Tech series, but oh well. Nothing to do but look towards the postseason, and that starts at 9 am. tomorrow against the Baylor Bears. Click on the jumppy and we'll get into a quick preview.
The Big 12 Tournament is two division, double elimination format this year. We open up early tomorrow against the Bears (I'm really hating the start time, but at least it should equally effect both teams), a team which won our season series 2 games to 1. The Bears have a 13-14 conference record and are 29-24 overall. The Bears are trending in the exact opposite direction of the Cowboys, having won 3 straight series to close the season, while the Pokes have gone 1-4 in the last 5 series to close the year. Baylor enters this years tourney hoping to ride last years Big 12 magic all the way back to the title game, and I hope they are stuck 0-1 after tomorrow, so we both can't get what we want.
What will it take to beat Baylor? First, we need to keep walks, hit batters, and wild pitches down. It seems every Cowboy pitcher has struggled with control at some point this year. Second, we need to keep the errors down. It seems this team can make amazing plays (inside the park home runs, double plays, ect.) but screw up the easy plays (dropped flyballs, missed ground balls). If we just play error free ball I think we will win. Mike Strong (5-1) will take the mound to start the contest, and will face Baylor's Logan Verrett (6-4). Verrett, a junior righty, brings a 2,78 ERA and has only given up 5 home runs all season. I think a key to this game will be to take Verrett high into the pitch count early. The Bear bullpen is not as strong as some we have faced, so that would be a good area to try and exploit. Baylor is also good at comebacks, having done so 13 times this year, so they have hope no matter what you do to them.
If we win we will most likely face Texas (they take on Missouri tomorrow), and if we lose we would then probably face Missouri. I would love to beat Baylor and take our shot at Texas (the regular season Champs) and see what we can make of it, but first things first. No matter what happens, we will most likely make the NCAA tournament, and that help's get this program going again. We should have a full allotment of scholarships next year (the first time in a while), and hopefully we can get back to Cowboy baseball (duh, winning- championships). Also, Frank Anderson is 4 wins away from 300 so all he has to do is win the tourney to get em.