Young guns firing on all cylinders

With just three Big 12 series left on the Aggies' schedule, A&M's title hopes rest on the shoulders--or arms--of two true freshmen. Aggie Websider's Dallas Shipp visits with A&M skipper Rob Childress about Barrett Loux and Brooks Raley as his Aggies head down the stretch in Big 12 play with a key series against No. 10 Missouri this weekend at Olsen Field.

Most college baseball coaches probably would rather have a little experience on the mound for them on Friday and Saturday nights. But for the sixth-ranked Aggies, the young guns have held up nicely.

True freshmen Barrett Loux and Brooks Raley have done a phenomenal job for the Aggies this season, especially the last four weeks, leading A&M to four straight series sweeps in Big 12 play, giving them a 1.5 game lead in the Big 12 with just three series left on the schedule.

Loux is 3-1 this season with a 4.50 ERA and a team-high 54 strikeouts in 50 innings of work.

"Barrett Loux has done everything we've asked him to do," said A&M head coach Rob Childress. "At times I've put too much on him and challenged him too much. I have to remember that he's just a freshman, but I think the last two weeks have been great confidence builders for him as he's been able to get over some challenging spots in the game."

That's the biggest difference in the April version of Loux compared to the February version according to Childress.

"Usually in the fourth or fifth inning you've got to make a pitch and get through an inning then you end up going seven innings," Childress said. "The first month of the season it didn't really happen for him. He'd reach a challenging point in the game and he'd hang a slider or not locate a fastball with two outs and runners on and he'd give up a big hit and he was gone."

Meanwhile, fellow freshman Raley is 5-0 on the season with a 3.11 ERA, 44 strikeouts and just 10 walks in 55 innings of work in mostly Friday night starts, coming off what may be his best performance of his young A&M career last Friday night.

Raley pitched 7.2 innings against the Bears allowing just one run on five hits in a 2-1 win for the Aggies, even though he did not pick up with victory.

"Brooks Raley is a guy that kind of flew under the radar with other teams but we felt like he really fit with us," Childress said. "We always tell recruits that we think they can play, but the question is can you step in and play in front of 5,000 people here that are all cheering for you, but more importantly can you play in front of 5,000 people on the road who don't like you very much. Brooks loves that kind of environment."

Raley will once again be tested this weekend when he goes up against Missouri ace Aaron Crow, who leads the league with 79 strikeouts and is No. 5 in the Big 12 with a 2.32 ERA and No. 7 in the Big 12 with a .218 opponents' batting average.

"It's an incredible challenge, last week was as well with (Baylor's) Kendal Volz. That guy is a true No. 1 (starter) and we've got the same this Friday," Childress said. "I think Brooks Raley enjoys that challenge. I'm glad we're playing it here rather than of Colombia."

First pitch on Friday night is set for 6:30 p.m. Loux will take the mound for the Aggies at 2 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.


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