Major league pitchers and catchers start arriving at their spring training destinations this week, and this weekend also marks the opening of the 2014 Big 12 baseball campaign.
All nine Big 12 teams are in action this weekend in season openers. Hopefully, where the games are being played will be much more conducive to baseball than the five or so inches of snow I’m looking out the window at in the sub-freezing temperatures that are blanketing a good part of the country.
West Virginia and Oklahoma State open their seasons in tournaments in South Carolina and Arlington, Texas, respectively. Oklahoma (vs. Seton Hall), TCU (vs. Jacksonville) and Texas Tech (vs. Indiana) open the 2014 season with three-game home series, and the rest of the conference teams are on the road – and, yes – in warm or at least warmer-weather locations.
Kansas State, the 2013 conference champion, opens up on the West Coast at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo.
Over the next week, I will preview the Big 12 baseball season and the season outlook and key personnel for the nine teams that compete in the sport of baseball.
The Big 12 coaches have tabbed K-State as the preseason favorite in the annual coaches’ poll to repeat as champions in 2014. When the Wildcats won the conference crown last season, it was their first league title in over 80 years. The league coaches had picked Kansas State to finish seventh in the conference before last season. The last time K-State finished first in the conference in baskeball was back in 1933, when the conference was known as the Big Six.
The Wildcats receive five of the nine first-place votes and 56 points total. Only six points separated the top four teams in the preseason coaches’ poll. Oklahoma State, which was the conference race a year ago, came in second in this year’s poll, tied with TCU. Texas was fourth. Oklahoma State received two first-place votes, and TCU and Texas each received one first-place vote.
In the 15 seasons the Big 12 coaches poll has been conducted, only five times as the preseason favorite gone on to win the regular-season title. Texas has won the most conference crowns in baseball with seven championships since the Big 12 was formed in 1996-97.
Six different teams have been projected to win the Big 12 championship in baseball in the 15 seasons the preseason poll has been conducted.