Big 12 baseball tournament: Meet Texas' possible opponents in Oklahoma City
The Big 12 baseball tournament begins Tuesday with a first-ever No. 8-No. 9 single-elimination matchup before the double-elimination bracket begins Wednesday. No. 1 seed Texas will play the winner of that game, either West Virginia or Kansas. The tournament returns to Oklahoma City's Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark for the 20th time in 23 seasons before moving to Arlington for at least three seasons beginning next year. Here's a look at the teams:
No. 1 Texas Longhorns
Record: 40-13 (17-7 Big 12)
Coach: David Pierce, fifth season (162-90)
Big 12 Tournament history: 20th appearance. 37-30 record. Won five championships — 2002, 2003, 2008, 2009, 2015.
Leading hitter: Ivan Melendez leads the Longhorns with a 1.120 OPS, including a .667 slugging percentage. Melendez has 11 home runs and 45 RBIs.
Leading pitcher: Ty Madden is 6-3 with a 2.55 ERA in 13 starts. Monday, he was named the Big 12 pitcher of the year. Madden has 98 strikeouts in 81 1/3 innings.
Short hops: Texas is the No. 1 seed for the ninth time. No other team has been the top seed more than four times (Texas Tech) and the other current Big 12 teams combined only equal the Longhorns' nine No. 1 seeds. Texas is 16-14 as the top seed. … The Longhorns are No. 2 in D1Baseball.com’s rankings. … Texas leads the Big 12 with a 2.93 ERA but is just seventh in strikeouts with 440. Only Fairfield, at 2.65, has a better ERA than the Longhorns nationally. … Pete Hansen leads the Big 12 with a 1.80 ERA and opponents are hitting just .195 against him. … The Longhorns lead the league in fielding at .980. … Texas leads the league with 41 sacrifice bunts, 13 more than the second-place team in the league. … Mike Antico leads the Big 12 with 25 stolen bases. … Tristan Stevens has a league-best eight wins.
No. 2 TCU Horned Frogs
Record: 36-16 (17-7 Big 12)
Coach: Jim Schlossnagle, 18th season (730-343)
Big 12 Tournament history: Eighth appearance. 18-10 record. Won two championships — 2014, 2016.
Leading hitter: Phillip Sikes is hitting .339 with 10 home runs and 56 RBIs, clogging .650 this season.
Leading pitcher: Haylen Green is tied for the league lead with 11 saves and is 1-2 with a 3.48 ERA and 30 strikeouts and just six walks in 44 innings.
Short hops: The Horned Frogs are No. 15 in D1Baseball.com’s rankings. … TCU has drawn a Big 12-best 297 walks, good for No. 3 nationally. … The Horned Frogs are tied for No. 2 nationally with 24 triples. … TCU dropped its last three series, losing two of three in each. … The Horned Frogs are the No. 2 seed for the third time. TCU has gone 7-2 as the No. 2 seed, including winning the 2014 tournament. … Brayden Taylor, who is tied for the team lead with 10 home runs and is second with a .579 slugging percentage, was named the Big 12 Freshman of the Year on Monday.
No. 3 Texas Tech Red Raiders
Record: 35-13 (14-10 Big 12)
Coach: Tim Tadlock, ninth season (336-168)
Big 12 Tournament history: 20th appearance. 21-38 record. Won 1998 championship.
Leading hitter: Freshman Jace Jung leads the Big 12 with 20 home runs, 12 in conference play. He also is running away with the lead in slugging at .766. Jung is tied for the national lead with 65 RBIs. Jung was named the Big 12 player of the year on Monday.
Leading pitcher: Micah Dallas is 4-2 with a 2.78 ERA and 67 strikeouts in 58 1/3 innings. Dallas threw a season-high 7 1/3 innings in a 5-3 win over Texas on May 1.
Short hops: The Red Raiders enter the tournament No. 5 in D1Baseball.com’s rankings. … Texas Tech is tied for seventh nationally with 80 home runs and No. 7 in slugging percentage at .510. … Dru Baker is hitting .373 with 48 runs and 29 RBIs. Baker was joined by Jung and Cal Conley, who is hitting .345, on the All-Big 12 first team. … D1Baseball.com has the Red Raiders as one of two Big 12 teams as a top-eight national seed, with Tech projected as the No. 8 overall seed.
No. 4 Oklahoma State Cowboys
Record: 32-16-1 (12-12 Big 12)
Coach: Josh Holliday, ninth season (316-174-2)
Big 12 Tournament history: 22nd appearance. 29-38 record. Won three championships — 2004, 2017, 2019
Leading hitter: Christian Encarnacion-Strand is third nationally, just one behind the leaders, with 64 RBIs. He’s hitting .360 with 15 home runs and has a .690 slugging percentage. He earned Big 12 newcomer of the year honors.
Leading pitcher: Justin Campbell is 6-1 with a 2.25 ERA, striking out 93 in 72 innings. Hitters are hitting just .202 against him. Campbell threw a no-hitter against Kansas on May 8.
Short hops: Jake Thompson is hitting .363 with 27 RBIs. He leads the Big 12 with a .509 on-base percentage … Two key pitchers recently returned for the Cowboys with Parker Scott, who hadn’t pitched since April 16, and Brett Standlee, who hadn’t pitched since May 2. Scott has a 2.34 ERA, making eight starts in 10 appearances, while Standlee has a 3.33 ERA with all but two of his appearances coming in relief. … The Cowboys’ seven shutouts are tied for fifth-most nationally and their 11.0 strikeouts per nine innings average is No. 8 in Division I. … Max Hewitt leads the league with nine sacrifice bunts. … Besides Encarnacion-Strand’s 15, no other Cowboys hitter has more than seven home runs. … Cauden Trenkle leads the Cowboys with 41 runs.
No. 5 Oklahoma Sooners
Record: 27-26 (11-13 Big 12)
Coach: Skip Johnson, fourth season (112-78)
Big 12 Tournament history: 24th appearance. 38-39 record. Won two championships — 1997 and 2013.
Leading hitter: Tyler Hardman is leading the Big 12 with a .403 average and 87 hits. Hardman hit .393 in Big 12 play. After cooling down in late April/early May, Hardman is 12 of 21 over the last five games.
Leading pitcher: Jason Ruffcorn spent most of the season as the Sooners’ closer before moving into the rotation near the end of the season. While his ERA jumped to 3.26, Ruffcorn still has a .97 WHIP. He’s struck out 66 in 49 2/3 innings. Opponents are hitting just .198 against him.
Short hops: Ruffcorn has given up 10 home runs this season. Only one of the 18 runs he’s allowed have scored via something other than a home run and he hasn’t allowed a run any other way since March 14. … Sooners pitchers have given up a league-most 72 home runs. No other team has given up more than 48. … The Sooners are No. 9 nationally with 110 doubles, led by Hardman’s 19. … After moving into the starting lineup in early May following the injury to Tanner Tredaway, Breydon Daniel struggled, going 6 for 28 in his first seven starts following Tredaways’s injury. But Daniel was 5 of 8 in the Sooners’ final two games, with three runs and three RBIs. … Despite the Sooners’ record, OU is on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament, listed second among the “first five out” on D1Baseball.com.
No. 6 Baylor Bears
Record: 31-18 (11-13 Big 12)
Coach: Steve Rodriguez, sixth season (171-116)
Big 12 Tournament history: 24th appearance. 37-39 record. Won 2018 championship.
Leading hitter: Jared McKenzie is hitting .380 with 9 home runs, 39 RBIs and a 1.066 OPS. McKenzie’s average is second in the league in batting average and leads the league with 61 runs scored. He was one of three Bears named to the All-Big 12 first team on Monday.
Leading pitcher: Luke Boyd is 1-2 with a 1.08 ERA and a .92 WHIP. In 25 innings, he’s allowed just 13 hits, and struck out 40 with 10 walks. He’s allowed just one extra-base hit all season — a double by OU’s Jimmy Crooks in Saturday’s game.
Short hops: The Bears lead the Big 12 with a .305 average. … Catcher Andy Thomas, who leads the Bears with 59 RBIs, joined McKenzie and Boyd on the All-Big 12 first team. … Baylor is the No. 6 seed for the sixth time, going 9-8 in that spot. The Bears have twice made the title game as the No. 6 seed, finishing as the runner-up in 2007 and 2010. … The No. 6 seed has reached the championship game eight times, tied for the most with the No. 1 and No. 4 seeds. … After starting the season just 13-10, the Bears went 18-8 the rest of the way to get back in the postseason picture. But Baylor dropped four of its last six, dropping two of three each to OU and OSU. The Bears are projected as a No. 3 seed by D1Baseball.com, one of the last five in the field entering this week.
No. 7 Kansas State Wildcats
Record: 31-21 (10-14 Big 12)
Coach: Pete Hughes, third season (66-62)
Big 12 Tournament history: 11th appearance. 14-20 record. Best finish: 2008 runner-up.
Leading hitter: Zach Kokoska is hitting .358 with 14 home runs, 16 doubles and 40 RBIs.
Leading pitcher: Jordan Wicks leads the league with 109 strikeouts and is 6-3 with a 3.32 ERA while walking 26 in 86 2/3 innings.
Short hops: Hughes, the former OU coach, will be suspended for the Wildcats first two games of the tournament after making contact with an umpire in the second inning of Thursday’s win over TCU. The incident drew an automatic four-game suspension. … The Wildcats are No. 6 nationally and lead the Big 12 with 83 home runs. … Four players — Kokoska, Dylan Phillips, Cameron Thompson and Chris Ceballos — have at least 10 home runs. … The Wildcats won three of their last four, including a series win over TCU that ultimately dropped TCU to the No. 2 seed and set up a first-round meeting between the two.
No. 8 West Virginia Mountaineers
Record: 23-25 (8-16 Big 12)
Coach: Randy Mazey, ninth season (261-206)
Big 12 Tournament history: Eighth appearance. 13-12 record. Best finish: Runner-up in 2016 and 2019.
Leading hitter: Austin Davis, who is hitting .317, is the Mountaineers’ only player hitting better than .300. Davis has eight doubles and leads the team with 26 runs.
Leading pitcher: Jackson Wolf is 5-5 with a 3.26 ERA, striking out 97 and walking 32 in 80 innings. In his best start of the season, he threw 7 1/3 shutout innings against Kansas on March 26.
Short hops: The Mountaineers have stolen a league-high 67 bases. … West Virginia is 13-12 all-time in the tournament, failing to win two games just twice — 2014 and 2015. … The Mountaineers have allowed just 37 home runs. Only Texas (31) has allowed fewer in the Big 12. … The Mountaineers are hitting just.251, lowest in the Big 12, and have scored just 393 runs, 82 less than Kansas, the team with the next-fewest. … Since 2007, the No. 8 seed has a winning record in the tournament, going 21-20. Only twice during that span has the No. 8 seed failed to win at least one game.
No. 9 Kansas Jayhawks
Record: 30-26 (8-16 Big 12)
Coach: Ritch Price, 19th season (561-522-3)
Big 12 Tournament history: 12th appearance. 12-21 record. Won 2006 championship.
Leading hitter: Skyler Messenger is hitting .327 with 39 RBIs and a Big 12-best 19 doubles.
Leading pitcher: Cole Larson is 5-5 with a 3.55 ERA and 83 strikeouts in 91 1/3 innings.
Short hops: Eli Davis, a Shawnee native, threw a seven-inning no-hitter in the Jayhawks' 10-0 win over Kansas State on May 14 in the second game of a doubleheader. Davis is 6-6 with a 5.56 ERA in 66 1/3 innings, striking out 45. … The Jayhawks have just 26 home runs, 20 fewer than West Virginia, the team with the next-fewest long balls. No Jayhawks hitter has more than six. … The Jayhawks scored 10 or more runs just once in Big 12 play, the only league team not to have multiple 10-plus run performances in conference play.
Note: The Jayhawks are the first-ever No. 9 seed in the tournament. An 8-9 game was added to the tournament this season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, though every team completed its 24-game Big 12 schedule. Tuesday's play-in game ended too late for this edition.
Big 12 Tournament schedule
Tuesday, May 25
Game 1: No. 8 West Virginia vs. No. 9 Kansas, 6 p.m. ESPN+/Big 12 Now
Wednesday, May 26
Game 2: No. 3 Texas Tech vs. No. 6 Baylor, 9 a.m., ESPNU
Game 3: No. 2 TCU vs. No. 7 Kansas State, 12:30 p.m., ESPN+/Big 12 Now
Game 4: No. 1 Texas vs. Game 1 winner, 4 p.m., ESPN+/Big 12 Now
Game 5: No. 4 Oklahoma State vs. No. 5 Oklahoma, 7:30 p.m., ESPN+/Big 12 Now
Thursday, May 27
Game 6: Game 2 loser vs. Game 3 loser, 9 a.m., ESPNU
Game 7: Game 4 loser vs. Game 5 loser, 12:30 p.m., ESPNU
Game 8: Game 2 winner vs. Game 3 winner, 4 p.m., ESPN+/Big 12 Now
Game 9: Game 4 winner vs. Game 5 winner, 7:30 p.m., ESPN+/Big 12 Now
Friday, May 28
Game 10: Game 8 loser vs. Game 6 winner, 3:15 p.m., ESPN+/Big 12 Now
Game 11: Game 9 loser vs. Game 7 winner, 7 p.m., ESPN+/Big 12 Now
Saturday, May 29
Game 12: Game 8 winner vs. Game 10 winner, 9 a.m., ESPN+/Big 12 Now
Game 13: Game 9 winner vs. Game 11 winner, 12:30 p.m., ESPN+/Big 12 Now
Game 14: Game 12 winner vs. Game 12 loser, 4 p.m., ESPN+/Big 12 Now (if necessary)
Game 15: Game 13 winner vs. Game 13 loser, 7:30 p.m., ESPN+/Big 12 Now (if necessary)
Sunday, May 30
Bracket 1 winner vs. Bracket 2 winner, 5 p.m., ESPN2