The 2013 Major League Baseball season is less than a week away, but in the college world, the baseball season started over a month ago and is a little more than a third over as the season heads into the month of April. Looking at the Big 12 Conference standings through games of March 26, the casual observer would be hard pressed not to get baseball confused with the football season, with Oklahoma and Kansas State battling at the top of the league in the early going.
Oklahoma (23-4) is on a current 11-game winning streak and is the only Big 12 team to be ranked in all four of the national college baseball polls this week. Oklahoma State is ranked in three of them. The Sooners are ranked as high as 11th by Collegiate Baseball and are 12 in the most recent USA Today Coaches’ Poll. Texas Tech and Kansas State also received votes.
The view at the top of the Big 12 standings, which has Oklahoma and Kansas State (17-8) leading the pack, may not be as surprising as what is happening at the other end of the standings. TCU, which was swept by Oklahoma last weekend, and Texas are both longtime college baseball powers, yet the two combined have won only two of their first nine conference games. The Baylor Bears, last year’s regular-season champion after starting out 18-0 in the conference, also is off to a surprisingly slow start, with a 12-13 record overall.
The Sooners are at home for a second consecutive weekend, playing host to Kansas (14-8), which took two of three from TCU a couple of weeks ago to open its conference schedule.
Oklahoma’s designated hitter Max Oberste, has hit safely in 27 straight games and has reached base safely in 33 consecutive at bats, dating back to the 2012 season. Oberste lead the conference in hitting (.476), hits (50) and runs scored (27) and also is first in the league in home runs thus far with seven.
Texas is off to a disappointing start, but the Longhorns’ closer Corey Knebel has becone the Mariano Rivera of the Big 12 Conference. The junior right-handed reliever has moved into fouth place in Big 12 career saves. His 32 saves at Texas in a little over two seasons are nine short of tying former Longhorn star Houston Street’s career record of 41.