Childress discusses big weekend series

A&M head coach visits with Aggie Websider about the upcoming weekend series with No. 4 Missouri and what he thinks about his red-hot team heading into the series, including Blake Stouffer, who enters tonight's game with a career-high 17-game hit streak on the line.

In what has shaped up to be one of the biggest series of the year at Olsen Field—and in the Big 12 Conference—the No. 6 Aggies will host No. 4 Missouri (ranked as high as No. 4) at Olsen Field this weekend with lots of Big 12 Championship ramifications on the line.

With a 1.5 game lead over second-place Nebraska and a four-game lead over third place Oklahoma State, A&M head coach Rob Childress knows that his Aggies (34-7, 15-3) have very little room for error. The Tigers (29-11, 9-6) are in a similar position, looking up at the Aggies, who are 4.5 games ahead of Missouri heading into the weekend.

"I feel like this weekend is going to be an incredible series," said A&M head coach Rob Childress. "The weather is supposed to be good and I think the crowds will be great. I know coach Jamieson and his team have had an outstanding year and we've got a tough task ahead facing the top two pitchers for them and a lineup that's definitely a volatile lineup that has a chance to get after you in a hurry."

Childress is hoping that his pitching staff is up to the task, and that he can continue to get the quality starts that he's been receiving from his starters. But he also hopes that his bullpen can string some innings together this weekend as well.

"I hope we continue to get great starts out of our guys on the weekend but at some point that's not going to happen, we've got to have some more guys come in," Childress said. "That's why I left Hank (Robertson) in there for four innings against Baylor, to see if he could come in and do that."

He was in fact able to do it, giving Childress confidence in him as a middle reliever who can throw for several innings, but Childress is still not completely satisfied with his pen.

"With Hank Robertson, Travis Starling and Kyle Theabeau we've got a chance to keep games close at the end especially with the lead, but we're going to have to have some other guys step up in the bullpen," he said. "Whether it's Blake Rampy or even Scott Migl and Carson Middleton on the weekends, we're going to have to have some other guys come through for us."

One area of the game that Childress has not been concerned about lately is the offense. The numbers have been off the charts this season for the Aggies, especially through the last 17 games.

During that stretch, the Aggies have averaged 9.6 runs per game and hit .361 as a team. They've scored at least eight runs in 13 of the last 17 games, and racked up 10 hits or more in 12 of the last 17 games.

But it's not just base hits, the Aggies, who are second in the Big 12 in homeruns have hit 23 long balls during that stretch and have had three extra-base hits or more in 15 of the last 17 games, totaling 33 doubles and 10 triples to go along with the 23 homers.

"Offensively we've been very good the entire season and we've been able to overcome some of our mistakes whether it be on the mound or defensively because we've been scoring so many runs," Childress said on Thursday. "The one time we have played a 2-1 game, we played great defense, pitched well and were able to win that game."

And that's what it will probably take in at least the first two games of the weekend against Missouri with four quality starters taking the mound for the two teams.

First pitch is set for 6:30 tonight, followed by a 2 p.m. game on Saturday and a nationally-televised series finale on Sunday at 1 p.m. on FSN.

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