As the college baseball regular season reaches its midway point, teams are seeing more conference play and look to separate from the pack.
Baylor holds the top spot in the Big 12 but must fend off a powerful Texas A&M squad and an over-performing young Texas team. TCU, currently second in the Mountain West, will try and rack up more conference wins as they battle New Mexico for the top spot.
Baylor is ranked No. 18 in the country and is sporting a solid 19-7 (6-0 conference) record so far this season. The Bears started off hot with a six-game winning streak, but fell into a slump after losing back-to-back games at UCLA. However, they have come on strong of late, including sweeps of conference cellar-dwellers Texas Tech and Kansas.
The Bears offense is currently ranked fourth in the Big 12 with a team batting average of .299 and 162 runs scored. Sophomore Lawton Langford is leading the team at the plate with a .405 average from the leadoff spot. Junior Logan Vick has had a great first half with a .352 average, and his 13 doubles are first in the conference and second best in the nation. Josh Ludy and Max Muncy are the top run producers so far, each batting .337 with 26 and 25 RBI respectively. Muncy leads the Bears with four home runs.
The pitching staff, meanwhile, is currently third in the conference with a solid 3.18 ERA. Senior Trent Blank is 6-0 and leading the team with a 1.76 ERA through 41 innings. His six wins are best in the Big 12. Junior Josh Turley is next in line with three wins and a 2.08 ERA. He also leads the team with 31 strikeouts.
The Bears look to stay hot as they play host to conference foe Oklahoma State this weekend. They'll look to rack up conference wins and build momentum heading into a critical series against Texas A&M the weekend of April 19-21. The Aggies are currently 20-5 and ranked No. 8, but are only third in the Big 12 with a 2-1 record. Baylor will end their regular season in Austin against the Texas Longhorns who are currently second in the conference with a 5-1 record (13-9 overall).
The Longhorns are currently one spot behind Baylor at No. 19, with a 14-9 overall record and a 5-1 conference mark. Texas started off slow as they integrated a bunch of younger players into their line-up, losing five straight early on, including a sweep in Palo Alto at the hands of No. 3 Stanford. However, they've begun to gel recently, winning nine of their last ten.
Texas' offense is currently second to last in the Big 12 with a .266 team average and only 111 runs scored. Junior Jonathan Walsh leads the Horns with a .380 batting average and 17 RBI. Sophomore Erich Weiss looks to be the best overall hitter on the team so far with a .318 average and is slugging .553 with 3 homeruns, 3 triples and 13 RBI. Freshman Brooks Marlow also had a noteworthy first half, batting .256 with two home runs and 16 RBI. He has started all 23 games for the Horns this season at second base.
The Horns pitching staff is currently fifth in the Big 12 with a 3.75 ERA. Sophomore closer Corey Knebel is leading the staff with a 1.23 ERA and five saves. He ranks second in the Big 12 in ERA and saves. Sophomore Nathan Thornhill leads the Texas starters with a 3.69 ERA and 34 strikeouts.
The Longhorns hope their young players continue to develop, build chemistry, and continue riding their recent momentum as they dive headfirst into conference play. They take on the eighth ranked Aggies the weekend of April 27-29 and close the season at home against conference leader Baylor May 17-19.
TCU is having a lackluster season so far with a 12-10 record, but their 4-2 conference record is second best in the Mountain West. The Horned Frogs got off to a rocky start dropping six of their first nine, but played well in a tough away series against No. 10 Cal State Fullerton. The Frogs turned things around in a series against Oklahoma State. After losing the first game, TCU won the next two and parlayed those games into a nine-game winning streak. Since though, the Frogs have lost four of five, including a series loss to conference leader New Mexico in Albuquerque this past weekend.
The Frogs are second to last in the Mountain West with a .249 team batting average and only 118 runs scored. Juniors Josh Elander and Kyle Von Tungeln lead the team, batting .338 and .325 respectively. Senior Jason Coats has been the most productive Frog at the plate, batting .308 and leading the team in home runs (3) and RBI (21). Freshman Jerrick Suiter is currently batting .341, but has only played in half of TCU's games thus far. Look for him to see more at-bats down the road.
Freshman Preston Morrison leads a TCU staff that ranks first in the Mountain West with a 3.74 team ERA. Morrison, while not a starter, has worked like one, posting a 1.26 ERA (fourth best in the conference) over 28.2 innings pitched with 16 strikeouts to only two walks. Sophomore Stefan Crichton leads the Frogs starters with three wins and a 3.21 ERA with 20 strikeouts through 33.2 innings pitched. Kevin Allen has been fantastic out of the bullpen thus far. He has 24 strikeouts and no earned runs through 16 innings pitched.
The Frogs will look to take advantage of a favorable schedule in the second half. They only have two weekends on the road (against conference opponents Air Force and San Diego State). TCU will play host to Mountain West foe UNLV this weekend and have a critical home series against conference leader New Mexico the weekend of May 4-6. The Frogs will close the regular season at home against San Diego State.