K-State Baseball: Big 12 Conference Preview

TCU's Brandon Finnegan leads the Big 12 in strikeouts heading into conference play.

The preliminaries are mostly complete, and the nine baseball squads in the Big 12 get ready to start colliding.

The final third of March has rolled around, and with that the start of Big 12 play is right around the corner for the BatCats. With that in mind, we crack open the books to take a look at how the other Big 12 teams have started off the 2014 season.

Kansas State

K-State (13-7/0-0) got off to a dreadful start following the first run to the Super Regionals in school history by losing five straight to open the season and seven of their first eight games. Of course, all those games came in California. Since the calamity out west, the BatCats are undefeated, winning 13 straight games by an average of seven runs per game. KSU heads to Oklahoma this weekend to officially begin their defense of the 2013 Big 12 title.

BATTING LEADERS
AVG Austin Fisher .387
HR Austin Fisher
Mitch Meyer
2
RBI Mitch Meyer 18
PITCHING LEADERS
W Jared Moore 4*
ERA Levi MaVorhis 2.70
K Levi MaVorhis 28

Kansas

Kansas (14-7/2-1) began its season on fire, winning its first nine games and 12 of its first 13, the lone loss coming to Houston Baptist in a 4-2 game. Stanford threw water onto that fire by handing Kansas two straight losses before KU dropped its third consecutive game, this one against Oral Roberts in the Jayhawks' home opener. Kansas recovered quickly, taking two of three from the Longhorns to begin conference play, before losing back to back games against New Mexico. The Jayhawks return home this weekend to face Dartmouth before swinging back into Big 12 play.

BATTING LEADERS
AVG Justin Protacio .333
HR Conor McKay 4
RBI Conor McKay 29*
PITCHING LEADERS
W Wes Benjamin
Jordan Piche
Drew Morovick
3
ERA Drew Morovick 3.99
K Frank Duncan 34

Texas Tech

If Kansas began their season on fire, Texas Tech (17-6/1-2) opened their season scorching hot winning 15 of their first 18 games including three of four against #3 Indiana and a victory over #10 Rice. The Red Raiders cooled off quickly once Big 12 play began though, losing two straight games against the Baylor Bears before salvaging the final game of the series. Texas Tech split a two-game midweek series with Stephen F. Austin, and they return to Big 12 play this weekend, carrying the conference's best overall record, against TCU.

BATTING LEADERS
AVG Eric Gutierrez .351
HR Eric Gutierrez 3
RBI Adam Kirsch 23
PITCHING LEADERS
W Cameron Smith 4*
ERA Dominic Moreno 1.59
K Matt Whithrow 22

West Virginia

West Virginia’s (11-6/0-0) roller coaster of a season started with the Mountaineers dropping four of their first six games. West Virginia recovered from the opening plummet by rattling of six straight wins, then levelled off winning three of their last five games. A three game series against UNC Wilmington and a single game against Pitt remain before WVU begins Big 12 play against Baylor.

BATTING LEADERS
AVG Ryan McBroom .388
HR Ryan McBroom 5
RBI Ryan McBroom 23
PITCHING LEADERS
W Harrison Musgrave
Sean Carley
3
ERA John Means 1.45
K Harrison Musgrave 34

Baylor

Baylor (11-9/2-1) decided it would rather play in the rain forest than in America as five of their first 13 games were postponed. In the eight games they did play the Bears went 5-3, including a four game winning streak. After returning to civilization, Baylor was decidedly mediocre in going 5-6; however they did take two of three against Tech during that stretch, as well as the midweek contest against Houston Baptist. Baylor continues Big 12 play this weekend as Oklahoma State comes to town.

BATTING LEADERS
AVG Lawton Langford .302
HR Grayson Porter
Darryn Sheppard
2
RBI Mitch Price
Grayson Porter
12
PITCHING LEADERS
W Brad Kuntz 3
ERA Austin Stone 1.29
K Dillon Newman 27

Oklahoma

Oklahoma (16-6/0-0) started slow under first year head coach Pete Hughes, losing its home opener 7-5 to Seton Hall. The Sooners quickly recovered, however, winning 15 of their next 19 games by an average of five runs per game. The Sooners dropped their midweek tune-up against Arkansas-Little Rock 11-2. Kansas State visits Norman this weekend to open Big 12 play.

BATTING LEADERS
AVG Mac James .442*
HR Hunter Haley 4
RBI Hunter Haley 19
PITCHING LEADERS
W Ralph Garza, Jr. 3
ERA Jake Elliott 2.87
K Adam Choplick 27

Texas

Augie Garrido’s squad started hot, winning 11 of 15 to begin the season. Inconsistency has plagued the Longhorns of late, however, with Texas (16-6/1-2) going 3-3 over their last 6 games including dropping two of three against Kansas, the pre-season pick to finish last in the conference. Texas began a week off from Big 12 play with a victory against Dallas Baptist prior to opening a three game series against Columbia.

BATTING LEADERS
AVG Mark Payton .427
HR Mark Payton
Ben Johnson
Zane Gurwitz
1
RBI Mark Payton 14
PITCHING LEADERS
W Nathan Thornhill 3
ERA Nathan Thornhill 1.30*
K Parker French 29

Texas Christian

Overall TCU (12-8/0-0) has had a rather up and down season for a team picked to finish tied for second in the Big 12. After beginning the season by winning six of their first seven games, the Horned Frogs dropped six of their next nine. The Frogs were able to rebound this past weekend by sweeping Dartmouth, outscoring the Green 17-1. TCU dropped their strangely-scheduled non-conference tilt against Oklahoma and will start their Big 12 season at home against Texas Tech this weekend.

BATTING LEADERS
AVG Boomer White .388
HR Jeremie Fagnan 2
RBI Kevin Cron 14
PITCHING LEADERS
W Tyler Alexander
Brandon Finnegan
3
ERA Preston Morrison 1.54
K Brandon Finnegan 55*

Oklahoma State

Josh Holliday’s second year squad started off fantastically, winning 10 out of 11 games to open the 2014 campaign for the Cowboys (15-6/0-0). However, after two rain-outs sandwiched around a loss OSU went 4-4 over its next eight games, losing some of the huge momentum they had created to begin the season. The Cowboys defeated Missouri State in their tune-up game before traveling to Baylor to start Big 12 play.

BATTING LEADERS
AVG Zach Fish .347
HR Tanner Krietemeier 6*
RBI Tanner Krietemeier 19
PITCHING LEADERS
W Brendan McCurry 3
ERA Jon Perrin 2.92
K Jon Perrin 25

Iowa State

LOL KIDDING

Stats via the Big 12 Conference thru March 20th. * indicates conference leader. Batting Average leaders qualified based on 3 at-bats per team game; ERA leaders qualified based on 1 inning pitched per team game.

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