Competition will be fierce this week as many will be playing to prolong the season.
The Big 12 Championship begins Wednesday at ONEOK field and will go on for five days until the last teams standing meet in the championship game on Sunday. The double-elimination tournament is broken into two four-team divisions (see chart below for full tournament schedule).
Texas Tech, who is seeded No. 4 takes on No. 5 Texas to open the tournament 9 a.m. Wednesday. The Longhorns finished the regular season with a 26-25 overall record and went 11-13 in the conference. While the Red Raiders had a season of highs and lows they finished a bit better with 30-22 overall and 13-11 in Big 12 play.
The Red Raider’s biggest struggle has been at the plate this year, but a few guys stepped up in the last two series giving them some hope for the tourney. The pitching staff is definitely a strength with the fourth best ERA in the conference. Senior reliever Corey Taylor leads the league with a .34 ERA.
When these teams met up in the regular season in Austin, Texas Tech rallied and won the last two games to take the series. That was mainly due to dominating performances by senior right-hander pitcher Cameron Smith (probable starter Wednesday) and senior righty Dominic Moreno.
In the first game Texas’ ace Parker French (3-3 ERA: 2.40), who is expected to take the mound Wednesday, shut out the Red Raiders and only allowed seven hits, three walks and matched a season high of seven strikeouts. So, this could very much turn into a pitcher’s duel depending on who is up there.
Defending Big 12 Tournament champ and No. 1 seed, TCU (43-9, 18-5), will then take on Baylor (21-30, 9-13) the final seed. The Horned Frogs own the second best team ERA in the NCAA at 2.22; have three starters with and ERA below 2 and a strong bullpen. They are equally impressive at the plate with the majority the squad above .300.
No. 2 seed Oklahoma State (34-17, 14-8) will be playing just an hour away from Stillwater therefore should have a huge crowd. They will take on seven seed West Virginia (27-25, 9-13) in the last game Wednesday.
The Cowboys have a solid pitching staff, including lefty Michael Freeman (9-2 ERA: 1.06) who pitched a career high of 10 strikeouts against Texas Tech this season. And offensively the team averages .280, but leads the Big 12 in conference home runs with 21.
Texas Tech learned the hard way that you don’t want to sleep on West Virginia. The Mountineers have good momentum going into the tournament after winning the series against the Red Raiders, but is it enough to upset the Cowboys?
The other team that is legit contender in the tournament is Oklahoma(32-25, 13-11) who is just above Tech in the three seed. Just like the Red Raiders they need a solid performance, championship game appearance, in the tournament to get an NCAA bid. They will take on No. 6 Kansas State (26-28, 10-14) at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.
The Sooners have the second best team batting average at .282 and that is led by junior Kolbey Carpenter who owns the second best batting average in the league at .363. Although they have no superstars on their pitching staff and are in the middle of the conference with a team ERA of 3.47 this group has kept them in it throughout the season.
As every coach around the league has said this is a competitive league, who had four teams at College World Series last season. How these teams fare in the tournament will determine their post-season destiny, and for a couple of them their performance this week is the only thing that will keep the post-season dream alive.
Big 12 Tournament Schedule
Wednesday, May 20
Game 1: No. 5 Texas vs. No. 4 Texas Tech (FCS) - 9:00 a.m.
Game 2: No. 8 Baylor vs. No. 1 TCU (FCS) - 12:30 p.m.
Game 3: No. 6 K-State vs. No. 3 Oklahoma (FCS) - 4:00 p.m.
Game 4: No. 7 West Virginia vs. No. 2 Oklahoma State (FCS) - 7:30 p.m.
Thursday May 21
Game 5: Game 1 Loser vs. Game 2 Loser (FCS) - 9:00 a.m.
Game 6: Game 3 Loser vs. Game 4 Loser (FCS) - 12:30 p.m.
Game 7: Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner (FCS) - 4:00 p.m.
Game 8: Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 Winner (FCS) - 7:30 p.m.
Friday May 22
Game 9: Game 7 Loser vs. Game 5 Winner (FCS) - 3:15 p.m.
Game 10: Game 8 Loser vs. Game 6 Winner (FCS) - 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, May 23
Game 11: Game 7 Winner vs. Game 9 Winner (FCS) - 9:00 a.m.
Game 12: Game 8 Winner vs. Game 10 Winner (FCS) - 12:30 p.m.
*Game 13: If Necessary (FCS) - 4:00 p.m.
**Game 14: If Necessary*** (FCS) - 7:00 p.m.
Game 15: Championship Game (FOX Sports 1) - Noon
Times listed in Central.
Division One: Seeds 4 vs. 5, 1 vs. 8 • Division Two: Seeds3 vs. 6, 2 vs. 7
*Game 13 will be necessary if the winner of Game 9 also wins Game 11.
**Game 14 will be necessary if the winner of Game 10 also wins Game 12.
***If Game 13 is unnecessary, Game 14 will be played at 4:30 p.m. rather than 7:30 p.m.