Editor’s note: this is the fourth in a series of articles previewing the 2014 Big 12 baseball season and the outlook for each of the nine conference teams that participate in the spring sport of baseball.
6. Baylor Bears
2013 season record: 27-28 overall; 12-11 in the Big 12, 5th place
The Bears are coming off a 27-win season in 2013, a year after posting 49 wins and a Big 12 regular-season championship. This could be another rough season for the team from Waco.
Baylor loses its top hitter, right-fielder Nathan Orf, the second best hitter in the conference a year ago by batting average. The Bears also lose starting infielders Jake Miller and Cal Towey. These three players combined for six of the team’s 15 home runs a year ago and 110 runs batted in.
Infielder Lawton Langford (.278 batting average, 18 RBI) and outfielder Adam Toth (.254, 18 RBI) will be counted on to pick up some of the offensive slack in 2014.
A pair of right-handed starters, Dillon Newman (3-4, 2.92 ERA in 77.1 innings) and Austin Stone (3-6, 3.38ERA in 84.2 innings) carried the bulk of the starting load last season and are back in 2014. The Bears’ pitching staff had the second highest ERA in the conference last season.
The Bears are going to need better outings from their hurlers if they hope to get back to the championship form of two seasons ago.
Baylor opened the 2014 season last weekend, winning its opener against 18th-ranked Arizona State, before dropping the final two games of its three-game series in Tempe, Ariz. The Bears followed that up with victory in their home opener with the University of Texas-Arlington on Tuesday. The victory in their home opener evened the Bears’ season record at 2-2.
Next up: No. 5 Oklahoma