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Big 12 Baseball Tournament Preview

With a Conference Title on the line, the battle for the Regional Host, National Seed, or just a spot in the Field of 64 continues in Globe Life Field

The Big 12 Baseball Tournament will take place at Globe Life Field May 25-29

The Big 12 has moved its conference tournament out of the Bricktown Ballpark of Oklahoma City and into the Major League facility of Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. The relocation may be welcome for TCU fans looking to stay local and attend, although the Frogs experienced plenty of success in OKC, lifting the trophy in 3 of the last 7 tournaments.

The seeding for the for the tournament came down to the last day of the season, as the Horned Frogs stood alone at the top to earn the 1-seed. This did TCU no great favors, as #9 Oklahoma State and #19 Texas fell to the four and five seeds respectively, joining the Frogs’ side of the bracket. #8 Texas Tech received the 2-seed with a season-finale victory over #22 3-seed Oklahoma. Rather than holding a play-in game for the bottom two teams, this season the tournament will only feature 8 teams, with 9th-placed Kansas already headed to the off-season. The Big 12 is loaded with top-tier teams and the conference tournament will be one of toughest gauntlets in the country and a great table-setter for a run to Omaha.

A quick review of the field and what’s at stake for each program:

#1 Seed: TCU Horned Frogs - 35-18 (16-8)

Hot Bat: Tommy Sacco. Batting .359, tied for 5th in the conference; coming off a 2-HR game giving him 12 on the season. Also a menace once on base, stealing 17 bases in 19 attempts
Feared Pitcher: Riley Cornelio. The sophomore righty earned 2nd-Team All Big 12 honors with 1.08 K/IP and an opponent batting average of .220 for the season. While susceptible to extra base hits, having allowed 10 HRs, Cornelio is off an ace performance vs. Santa Clara and is looking healthy again headed into the postseason
CWS Outlook: D1Baseball and Baseball America both currently have the Frogs as a Regional host and the #14 seed. A short stay in Arlington could drop the Frogs out of a hosting spot, thanks to a sub-30 RPI ranking. While a run to the title game could jump TCU into a top-8 seed given the teams it would have to defeat to get there.

#2 Seed: Texas Tech Red Raiders - 36-18 (15-9)

Hot Bat: Jace Jung. The Jung family continues to destroy baseballs for TTU as the Sophomore was again a 1st-Team All-Conference and likely to match his brother as a top-10 MLB Draft pick. He’s sitting top 5 in the Big 12 in almost every stat category - hitting .350 with 14 HR and 55 walks.
Feared Pitcher: Brandon Birdsell. With a 1.33 K/IP rate on the season and a conference-best .204 batting average allowed, Birdsell is certainly a deserving Pitcher of the Year recipient. He has been touched up in the tougher conference games though, surrendering at least 4 runs to TCU, Texas, and OU.
CWS Outlook: Dropping the series to OU andmay have temporarily pushed TTU below the hosting line, with an RPI of 37. The Red Raiders need to reach the Championship game Sunday to bring a Regional to Lubbock.

#3 Seed: Oklahoma Sooners - 33-20 (15-9)

Hot Bat: Tanner Treadway. Having a breakout senior season after an injury shortened 2021, he’s been especially deadly in conference play, batting .356 with 5 homers. In the series win at TTU he hit .500 with 7 runs scored
Feared Pitcher: Jake Bennett. An inning eater that hasn’t gone fewer than 4.2 IP in 14 starts this season and has 3 games with double-digit Ks.
CWS Outlook: The Sooners feel pretty locked into a 2-seed, with an outside shot at hosting if they go on an undefeated run to a conference title. An ugly 0-2 performance in Arlington could drop them down to a 3-seed, but even in that scenario are likely safe.

#4 Seed: Oklahoma State Cowboys - 36-18 (15-9)

Hot Bat: Jake Thompson. Making the most of his final collegiate season as one of the most difficult outs in the conference - with a .467 OBP and only 36 Ks on the season. Coming off a series with Baylor where he was 9-12 with 4 RBI and 5 runs scored.
Feared Pitcher: Justin Campbell. He has an insane 123 strikeouts on the season, good for 1.41 K per IP and an absurd K/BB ratio of 5.35, with his top performance coming against TCU with 14 Ks in 8 innings.
CWS Outlook: Despite falling down the conference standings, the Cowboys are still top-20 in RPI and in prime position to be a Regional host. A win in its first game of the Tournament vs. Texas probably locks that up, while two wins or more could send the Cowboys to a Top-8 seed.

#5 Seed: Texas Longhorns - 39-17 (14-10)

Hot Bat: Ivan Melendez. Big 12 Player of the Year, perhaps the National player of the year as well, Melendez is putting up video game numbers. A .531 OBP with a Longhorn record 28 homers. Be afraid, be very afraid
Feared Pitcher: Lucas Gordon. Fellow rotation mate Pete Hansen gets much of the press and MLB prospect love, but Gordon has had at least as impressive a season. Gordon has allowed just 1 HR in 67 IP, contributing to conference-best 2.55 ERA. While not displaying the eye-popping strikeout numbers, Gordon is still only allowing opponent batting average of .209.
CWS Outlook: With an RPI of 21, the Longhorns can certainly jump to a Regional host spot with a long tournament run, but falling to 5th in the conference makes the path and the narrative more difficult. It’s likely UT is locked into a 2-seed without raising a trophy this week.

#6 Seed: West Virginia Mountaineers - 33-20 (14-10)

Hot Bat: Austin Davis. A monster in conference play, hitting .382 with 11 stolen bases and 29 runs scored. Opponent know you can’t let him on base because he’s very likely to score, but Big 12 pitchers haven’t been able to stop it
Feared Pitcher: Terry Braithwaite. Mountaineer starters have struggled mightily in conference play, with the best ERA being 5.63. So the nod here goes to an elite closer. In 10 Big 12 appearances, Braithwaite has 3 wins and 7 saves with 14 Ks and just 2 earned runs on .119 batting. If WVU turns the game over to its closer it’s likely game over.
CWS Outlook: WVU has done more than enough to lock in a spot in the tournament and should be a solid 3-seed and with a couple wins could jump to the 2 line. But don’t tempt the Committee, the Mountaineers should get one more win to leave no question.

#7 Seed: Kansas State Wildcats - 27-27 (8-16)

Hot Bat: Dominic Johnson. With a top 10 batting average for the season (.346), Johnson hasn’t been quite as strong in conference play (.280), but is still the straw that stirs the Waldcat drink. He leads the team in runs scored and K-State relies on his ability to get on base to generate runs.
Feared Pitcher: Blake Adams. Hard to say a pitcher with a 5.04 ERA is to be feared, but with 81 Ks on the season he has the ability to toss a gem in a key spot - in an April win over Texas, Adams pitched 7 innings, striking out 6 Longhorns and allowing just 1 run.
CWS Outlook: Must make a Cinderella run to win the conference tournament in order to make the field of 64.

#8 Seed: Baylor Bears - 26-26 (7-17)

Hot Bat: Jared McKenzie. The Sophomore Outfielder has been raking in league play - slugging .650 with 9 homers against Big 12 competition, including 2 dingers against OK State. However, with great power comes great whiffs, as McKenzie has gone down on strikes 60 times on the season
Feared Pitcher: Kobe Andrade. Baylor pitching has had a tough go this season, both injury and performance related. But Andrade has shown ability to put together strong performances, including a complete game vs. Kansas and 4 scoreless innings with 3 Ks vs. TCU in March.
CWS Outlook: Must make a Cinderella run to win the conference tournament in order to make the field of 64.

The Big 12 Tournament starts Wednesday May 25 at 9:00 AM with perhaps the game of the Tournament, with Texas taking on Oklahoma State, broadcast on ESPNU. TCU will begin its journey to a repeat tournament crown following that contest, playing Baylor at about 12:30 on ESPN+. We’ll be there to bring you all the updates and news throughout the Tournament.