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Big 12 Weekend Preview

The Big 12 opens the week with a promising schedule. Texas Tech hosts a tournament, while Nebraska and Missouri are both participating in tournaments away from home. No. 6 Texas plays host to Maryland, with No. 5 Oklahoma playing host to William and Mary. Most of the other match-ups favor the Big 12 teams, including no. 32 Baylor/Oral Roberts, no. 16 Texas A&M/LeMoyne, Oklahoma State/Bryant and Kansas State/Pacific. Unfortunately, Kansas travels to Fort Worth to take on no. 3 TCU, which won’t be good for the early season record.

Texas Tech vs. Western Michigan/Northwestern/Utah Valley (Lubbock, Texas)

Projected Starters:
Friday Feb 18
Texas Tech: So LHP Daniel Coulombe
Western Michigan: LHP Mike Moyer

Saturday Feb 19 (Game 1)
Texas Tech: Jr LHP Robbie Kilcrease
Northwestern: LHP Jack Havey

Saturday Feb 19 (Game 2)
Texas Tech: So RHP Jamen Parten
Utah Valley: LHP Zane Gray

Sunday Feb 20
Texas Tech: Jr LHP Ben Flora
Northwestern: TBA

Texas Tech will open up their 2011 season with a new face on the mound for the first time since 2006. Sophomore LHP Daniel Coulombe, formerly of Southern Cal, will be one of four newcomers in a lineup full of talent. Newcomers joining Coulombe are freshman RF David Paiz, junior 3B Reid Redman, and junior SS Kelby Tomlinson. Tomlinson displays plus range and arm at shortstop, as well as plenty of speed on the basepaths. Sophomore CF Barrett Barnes returns from his Big 12 Freshman of the Year campaign to a new position in center field, next to a new left fielder, junior Scott LeJeune. LeJeune led the Big 12 in doubles in 2010, and will see his first extensive action in the field after spending his first two seasons as the primary DH. Senior DH Nick Popescu, sophomore 2B Jamodrick McGruder, and junior 1B Stephen Hagen fill out the rest of the infield, while junior C Kevin Whitehead will be the top catcher for the Red Raiders.

Prediction: Texas Tech 4-0

Nebraska vs. Texas State/Washington/Missouri State/Air Force (San Marcos, Texas)

Friday Feb 18
Nebraska: So RHP Tyler Niederklein
Texas State: Jr RHP Michael Pitts

Saturday Feb 19 (Game 1)
Nebraska: Fr RHP Jon Keller or So RHP Dylan Vogt
Air Force: So RHP Sean Carley

Saturday Feb 19 (Game 2)
Nebraska: So RHP Tom Lemke
Washington: Jr RHP Michael Garber

Sunday Feb 20
Nebraska: Jr RHP Sean Yost
Missouri State: TBA

Nebraska will kick off 2011 in San Marcos against a team that is projected to make the NCAA Tournament, but they are lucky enough to avoid their ace pitcher, Carson Smith, due to injury. Their Saturday starts off with an easy game against Air Force, a team that had major troubles on the mound in 2010. Following up against Washington, an underrated Pac 10 squad, and finishing with Missouri State, Nebraska could walk away from this weekend at 3-1 or 2-2.

Prediction: Nebraska 2-2

No. 6 Texas vs. Maryland (Austin, Texas)

Friday Feb 18
Texas: Jr RHP Taylor Jungmann
Maryland: RHP Sander Beck

Saturday Feb 19 (Game 1)
Texas: Sr RHP Cole Green
Maryland: RHP David Carroll

Saturday Feb 19 (Game 2)
Texas: Jr LHP Sam Stafford
Maryland: LHP Eric Potter

Sunday Feb 20
Texas: So LHP Hoby Milner
Maryland: TBA

This series will be a proving ground for Eric Bakich’s team from Maryland, but the scoreboard will be all Texas. The Longhorns are just too much for the Terps, and should sweep easily, especially with Jungmann and Green throwing the first two games. Mid-week starter Sam Stafford gets the nod for the Horns in the second game on Saturday, while sophomore Hoby Milner, who should be the Sunday starter for the rest of the year, will start on Sunday.

Prediction: Texas 4-0

No. 16 Texas A&M vs. Le Moyne (College Station, Texas)

Friday Feb 18
Texas A&M: Jr RHP John Stilson
Le Moyne: St RHP Jeff Tardiff

Saturday Feb 19
Texas A&M: So RHP Michael Wacha
Le Moyne: Sr LHP Cory Nelson

Sunday Feb 20
Texas A&M: So LHP Ross Hales
Le Moyne: So RHP Derek Zielinski

This is a pretty easy write up. Texas A&M outmatches Le Moyne in every category. The big story of the weekend will by how junior RHP John Stilson performs in his starting debut. Stilson spent 2010 as the closer, and built a reputation as a hard throwing, dominating pitcher on the back end. If his performance translates to the front end, then Texas A&M will have a nice trio of starting pitchers.

Prediction: Texas A&M 3-0

No. 32 Baylor vs. Oral Roberts (Waco, Texas)

Friday Feb 18
Baylor: Jr RHP Logan Verrett
Oral Roberts: RHP Bryce Smolen

Saturday Feb 19
Baylor: Sr RHP Jon Ringenberg
Oral Roberts: RHP Joe Spring

Sunday Feb 20
Baylor: Jr RHP Trent Blank
Oral Roberts: RHP Alex Gonzalez

Baylor was picked to finish fourth in the league, and needs to start out strong against Oral Roberts to build up momentum. The Bears have the players to win, starting with Logan Verrett on the mound, and moving into the field with CF Logan Vick and C Max Muncy, to name a few. The series is important, not just to get a good start, but due to the fact that their next weekend series is against #3 TCU in Waco.

Prediction: Baylor 3-0

No. 5 Oklahoma vs. William and Mary (Norman, Oklahoma)

Friday Feb 18
Oklahoma: Sr RHP Michael Rocha
William and Mary: RHP Matt Davenport

Saturday Feb 19 (Game 1)
Oklahoma: Sr. RHP Bobby Shore
William and Mary: RHP Logan Billbrough

Saturday Feb 19 (Game 2)
Oklahoma: Jr RHP Burch Smith
William and Mary: TBA

Sunday Feb 20
Oklahoma: Fr. LHP Dillon Overton
William and Mary: RHP Brett Koehler

The Sooners have an easy series as they open up a top the Big 12. The main things to watch are the performances on the back end of the rotation with a pair of newcomers, including a true freshman on Sunday. Junior Burch Smith was drafted out of Howard College last season, but opted to attend OU, much in the same way Zach Neal did last season. Freshman Dillon Overton will make his debut on Sunday. Overton was a 26th round pick of the Red Sox in 2010. 3B Garrett Buechele is the player to watch in this series. The Player of the Year candidate shouldn’t have too much trouble with the Tribe pitching.

Prediction: Oklahoma 4-0

Oklahoma State vs. Bryant (Stillwater, Oklahoma)

Friday Feb 18
Oklahoma State: RHP Brad Propst
Bryant: TBD

Saturday Feb 19
Oklahoma State: LHP Andrew Heaney
Bryant: TBD

Sunday Feb 20
Oklahoma State: TBD
Bryant: TBD

The Cowboys had a rough go of it in 2010, finishing last in the Big 12, and are looking to prove that they have improved since then. They return a pair of starters on the mound from last season, and a handful in the field. At the plate, the obvious leaders coming into opening weekend are 2B Davis Duren and OF Luis Uribe. Oklahoma State should have no trouble with Bryant this weekend.

Prediction: Oklahoma State 3-0

Kansas State vs. Pacific (Stockton, CA)

Friday Feb 18
ansas State: LHP Kyle Hunter
Pacific: RHP Marcus Pointer

Saturday Feb 19
Kansas State: RHP Matt Applegate
Pacific: RHP J. Prato Matthews

Sunday Feb 20
Kansas State: LHP Levi Schlick
Pacific: RHP Jake Hummell

OF Nick Martini, 2010 Big 12 Co-Player of the Year, is back and ready to improve on his spectacular performance. KSU also returns 2009 3B Jason King, who sat out last season with an injury. On the mound, the Wildcats are moving RHP Matt Applegate to the mound for Saturday. Applegate started one game in 2010, while making 17 appearances in relief. He joins junior college transfer Levi Schlick as newcomers on the mound this weekend in California.

Prediction: Kansas State 2-1

Kansas vs. No. 3 TCU (Fort Worth, Texas)

Friday Feb 18
Kansas:  Sr. RHP T.J. Walz
TCU:  So. LHP Matthew Purke

Saturday Feb 19
Kansas: Sr. LHP Wally Marciel
TCU: Jr. RHP Kyle Winkler

Sunday Feb 20
Kansas: So. RHP Tanner Poppe
TCU: Sr. RHP Steven Maxwell

Kansas has their hands full with the Horned Frogs in Fort Worth this weekend. Unfortunately, they will be overpowered and over matched by TCU, who boasts one of the nation’s most complete pitching staffs. If the Jayhawks can have success against the TCU arms, specifically from their outfielders Jimmy Waters and Casey Lytle, then they may be able to steal a game that could pay dividends come tournament selection time. The odds, though, are stacked against them.

Prediction: Kansas 0-3

Missouri vs. USC/Cal-Poly/North Carolina (Los Angeles, California)

Friday Feb 18
Missouri: Jr. RHP Matt Stites
Cal-Poly: TBD

Saturday Feb 19
Missouri: Fr. LHP Rob Zastryzny

Sunday Feb 20
Missouri: Sr. LHP Zach Hardoin

Missouri’s club hasn’t received much respect this preseason, and the fact that they return only one regular hitter with an average over .300 doesn’t help, neither does the two new faces on the mound this weekend. Junior Matt Stites made waves in the Cape Cod League, and will debut on opening day. Rob Zastryzny was 17-1 with a 0.20 ERA in 2010. Missouri faces the Trojans from USC, as well as the Tarheels, both of which should prove tough to beat.

Prediction: Missouri 1-2

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