With three conference teams sweeping their three-game series this past weekend, the end effect was a shakeup and greater separation in both the standings and the weekly Big 12 Baseball Power Rankings as the league schedule nears the midpoint for most teams in the conference.
Texas (29-8, 9-3) has firmly planted itself atop the Big 12 standings, with a game separating the Longhorns and Oklahoma State (26-10, 8-4) and a two-game advantage over the Horned Frogs of TCU. The next two weekends will have a huge impact on the conference race, as the Longhorns play in the road at TCU thus weekend, and the following weekend they will host the second-place Cowboys.
Before its showdown series with the Longhorns, who swept Oklahoma at Norman this past weekend, Oklahoma State will entertain Kansas for three games beginning Friday. The Jayhawks have been on of the pleasant surprises this season, jumping out to a 9-0 start before suffering their first loss of the season.
Kansas (22-15) has cooled off somewhat since its tremendous start to the season. The Jayhawks are an even .500 in conference play at 6-6 but, more important and most relevant to this weekend’s action, are 4-2 in league games away from home.
It’s no real mystery that Texas, Oklahoma State and TCU are at the front of the pack at this stage. Those same three teams lead the conference in pitching supremacy. None of the three, however, is among the top teams in the conference in hitting.
Texas will have its hands full going against the strong pitching staffs of the Horned Frogs and Cowboys on successive weekends. But because of the Longhorns’ league-leading pitching corps, tops in the Big 12 with a staff ERA of 2.11, the same offensive challenge will apply to the TCU and Oklahoma State hitters.
Big 12 Baseball Power Rankings – Week 9 Of The 2014 Season
(Movement in rankings from prior week – up or down – in parentheses)
- Texas Longhorns (N/C) – Texas is on pace to go from worst to first and win its eight regular-season Big 12 championship after finishing last a year ago. The Longhorns have TCU at home this Easter weekend.
- Oklahoma State Cowboys (+1) – Trails Texas by one game in the standings with a huge head-to-head series coming up the weekend after next at Texas.
- TCU Horned Frogs (+1) – Has a great chance to pick up more ground in the standings when Texas comes to town this weekend. Have advanced six spots in the weekly power rankings in the past two weeks.
- Texas Tech Red Raiders (+1) – The Red Raiders are quietly lurking in the weeds. Their 28-11 overall mark is their best record after 39 games since 1999.
- Oklahoma Sooners (-3) – it doesn’t get any easier for the reeling Sooners, who go to Oklahoma State on Tuesday. OU fell from second in the league standings to sixth after losing three to front-running Texas last weekend.
- Kansas Jayhawks (N/C) – After this weekend, the most difficult part of the Jayhawks’ schedule will be behind them, and they are at .500 now.
- Baylor Bears (+2) – Poor hitting combined with equally poor pitching have doomed Baylor so far this season.
- West Virginia Mountaineers (-1) – Mired in a seven-game losing streak after winning their first two conference games.
- Kansas State Wildcats (N/C) - Bad pitching trumps good hitting, and the preseason favorite of the league coaches to defend their 2013 regular-season conference crown are finding that out in spades in 2014.