For the next month, we will examine all aspects of Texas Tech’s baseball team in order to give y’all the best damn preview there is. Here’s the schedule I have planned leading up to Texas Tech’s opening series against University of Maine on February 16th.
|TEXAS TECH BASEBALL PREVIEW|
|Jan. 18 – Texas Tech Baseball Schedule||Jan. 25 – Texas Tech Infield||Feb. 1 – Texas Tech Outfield||Feb. 8 – Texas Tech Pitching||Feb. 15 – Texas Tech / Big 12 Predictions|
Here are some notable tibits from the upcoming schedule:
- Texas Tech will play 56 regular season games this upcoming season. This includes 28 games at home, 27 games on the road and one neutral site game. Typically Tech has way more home games than road games, which is different.
- The Red Raiders will play 20 opponents, which includes eight from the Big 12, 11 NCAA tournament teams and seven conference champions (regular season or tournament).
- Texas Tech starts at home after starting on the road last season. The start of Big 12 play is March 16th at Baylor. When Tadlock starts the Big 12 schedule at Baylor, Tech has gone to the College World Series.
- Red Raiders play 13 weekend series this season, which totals 42 games. Seven are at home and six are on the road.
- Texas Tech plays 14 games that are either part of a weekday series or a single game. Four of these are at home, nine are on the road and one is at a neutral site.
- If you follow Tech baseball, you know the rotation by now. Texas Tech gets Baylor, Kansas, Oklahoma State and TCU on the road, and Kansas State, Oklahoma, Texas and West Virginia at home.
- The Big 12 tourney is May 23-27. If they get this far, the regionals are June 1-4, the super regoinals are June 8-11 and the College World Series is June 16-26.
Now for the overall all review of the 2018 schedule and the analysis of each match-up. All rankings are from the Collegiate Baseball poll. We’ll start with the season opener in just under a month against the University of Maine.
- University of Maine (Friday, Feb. 16th-18th) – Those New Englanders sure do love their baseball, and I bet the players enjoy traveling to warm weather state in Texas for their season opener against the Red Raiders. The Black Bears finished six out of seven schools in the American East conference, with a below .500 conference and overall record. However, they did advance to the conference tournament final and almost made the NCAAs. Their best players are infielder Jeremy Pena, catcher Christopher Bec, and pitcher Cody Laweryson. Maine is fourth in runs scored, third in runs allowed and third in fielding percentage in the American East.
- New Mexico State (Tuesday, Feb. 20) – Up next is an opponent that Texas Tech basically faces every year due to their distance to Lubbock. That doesn’t mean that the Aggies won’t be a challenge. New Mexico State finished second in the WAC and had the best overall record in the conference. The strength of the Aggies is their offense, which ranked fourth in batting average and 17th in runs scored in the nation. C Mason Fishback and RHP Kyle Bradish earned preseason all-american honors along with first team WAC honors in 2017. The Red Raiders often do well against them, with a 11-2 record under Tadlock.
- at UTSA (Friday, Feb. 23-25) – When I think of this team, I remember the three game series against UTSA last year. Tech won game one and three, but game two they lost. Gingery allowed zero runs in the first eight innings, but was left in too long, and Mushinski and McMillon were unable to correct the mistakes. The Roadrunners finished eighth in C-USA, and were around the .500 mark in conference and overall. UTSA finished fifth in average in their conference, seventh in ERA and fourth in fielding percentage. Unfortunately for Roadrunners, all their all conference players graduated, but they do get to play at home this series. For all you San Antonio Red Raiders, this is your chance to see this team.
- at UT Rio Grande Valley (Tuesday, Feb. 27) – The Vaqueros finished tied for last place in the WAC, but had the fifth best overall record in the conference. UTRGV were third in the conference in OBP, fourth in ERA and third in fielding percentage. They recently hired Derek Matlock, who was an assistant for WVU, and return an all-conference player in RHP Carter Johnson. On the bright side for UTRGV, they host the Red Raiders, where they had a 22-11 record last season, instead of traveling to Lubbock.
- No. 17 South Alabama (Friday, Mar. 2-4) – The first real test of the season for the Red Raiders is South Alabama, who had quite the road to the NCAA tournament last season. The Jaguars finished second in the Sun Belt conference, won 40 games and was able to clinch the automatic berth in a conference that featured the 2016 CWS winner in Coastal Carolina. They also were sixth in the nation in runs scored and on base percentage, and 11th in fielding percentage. South Alabama brings back a first team conference player in Drew LaBounty and third team preseason all-american and projected 2018 first round pick in Travis Swaggerty. Texas Tech should feel good if they can take the series against the Jaguars.
- New Mexico (Wednesday, Mar. 7) – Much like South Alabama, the Lobos had one of the best offenses in the nation last year. New Mexico finished fifth in the nation in runs scored, third in on base percentage, and fifth in doubles. This helped the Lobos finish first in the Mountain West in the regular season. However, the Lobos lost in the MWC tournament and missed the NCAA tournament. The lone all-conference player to return for New Mexico is first team OF Jared Mang, as many players graduated or went pro. The Lobos are always a challenge for Texas Tech, as Tadlock is 9-6 against New Mexico.
- at No. 8 Kentucky (Friday, Mar. 9-11) – Much like the Red Raiders trip down to Houston last season, Texas Tech’s trip to Kentucky will show how they stack up with the best in the country. The challenge begins in Lexington against a Kentucky squad that played in the super regional a season ago. The Wildcats were seventh in runs scored in the nation, fourth in on base percentage and second in doubles. They also have a couple of projected first round picks and preseason All-Americans in OF Tristan Pompey and ace RHP Sean Hjelle, who by the way is 6’11” (!!!). Going to be a tough match for Texas Tech
- at No. 21 Louisville (Tuesday, Mar. 13-14) – It doesn’t get any easier after Lexington. In fact, maybe it gets harder. Louisville was one of the best defensive teams in the country last year, as they were third in ERA, fourth in WHIP, 11th in K/BB ratio and 12th in runs scored. The Cardinals finished first the ACC in the regular season, won 48 games, and advanced to the CWS, defeating Kentucky in the super regionals. Louisville had seven players receive All-ACC honors, but only sophomore Nick Bennett returns. So quite possibly Texas Tech could see a weaker Louisville team this season.
- at Baylor (Friday, Mar. 16-18) – For the third time in five years, Texas Tech begins their pursuit of the Big 12 title in Waco. But luckily for the Red Raiders, they have had success against the Bears in recent years. Tech has won eight out of 11 total games against them their last three seasons, with one loss coming after Tech had a 9-4 lead in the ninth inning last year. Baylor finished fourth in the Big 12 and were in the second seed in the Houston regional last year. Many of the Bears best players graduated (Aaron Dodson) or went pro (Montana Parsons), but they do return All-Big 12 players RHP Troy Montemayor and C Shea Langeliers.
- Northeastern (Friday, Mar. 23-25) – The Red Raiders get a weekday series off before they host Northeastern for their final non-conference weekend series. The Huskies finished first in the Colonial Athletic Association, but fell to Delaware (whom Tech beat in the regionals) and UNC Wilmington in the conference tournament. Despite their title, Northeastern finished sixth in runs scored and fifth in ERA, but first in fielding percentage. Returning for the Huskies is the CAA’s defensive player of the year in INF Max Burt and INF Scott Holzwasser, who was a freshman All-American.
- at New Mexico State (Tuesday, Mar. 27) – This is the first rematch of the season for the Red Raiders. The Aggies were 18-9 at home last season.
- West Virginia (Thursday, Mar. 29-31) – The Red Raiders took two from the Mountaineers in Morgantown last year, but all three games were decided by one run. West Virginia finished fifth in the Big 12 and was a second seed in the Wake Forest regional. They return a first team All-Big 12 player in RHP/OF Braden Zarbnisky and a couple of second team players in right handed starters Michael Grove and RHP BJ Myers. The Mountaineers, who were third in runs scored and fourth in ERA last season, are making their earliest trip to Lubbock since Tadlock’s first year in 2013. He is 9-8 all time against West Virginia.
- vs New Mexico State at Midland (Tuesday, April 3) – What do you know, another match-up against New Mexico State. Texas Tech won this game in Midland last year by the score of 6-4.
- at Kansas (Friday, April 6-8) – After final exams were done, Kansas came to town and the Red Raiders had one thing in mind; clinch the Big 12 title. They needed a sweep of the Jayhawks, who they outscored 35-14 to claim the title. In fact, Texas Tech has swept Kansas the past two seasons, with their last loss coming March 27, 2015 and last series loss coming in 2014, when they were swept. Jayhawks finished seventh in the Big 12, and were seventh in runs against and last in runs scored. But they do return freshman phenom James Cosentino, which is nice, and have a lot of fun names to say.
- at No. 11 Dallas Baptist (Tuesday, April 10) – Last year’s Patriot team was defined by extra base hits. They hit 97 home runs last season, which was good for third in the NCAA, were fourth overall in doubles and fourth in slugging percentage. That helped Dallas Baptist finish second the Missouri Valley Conference, win their conference tournament and make the NCAA tournament in TCU’s regional. The Patriots were first in the MVC in runs scored and third in ERA. They return first team All-MVC players in C Garrett Wolforth and OF Jameson Hannah, who was named to the 2016 Lubbock Regional Tournament team.
- Kansas State (Friday, April 13-15) – In back-to-back weekends, Texas Tech will face teams from Kansas. The Red Raiders took the series from the last place Wildcats last year, and are 11-2 against Kansas State the last four seasons. The Wildcats only had three All-Big 12 selections last year, including one of the best players in the conference in Jake Scudder, but two of them return in OF Will Brennan and OF Cam Thompson. The weakness of Kansas State is pitching, where they finished last in ERA and runs allowed last season. Although many fans may look at this like an easy victory, you can’t look over a Big 12 opponent.
- at New Mexico (Tuesday, April 17-18) – Once again, the Red Raiders travel to New Mexico to face a tough baseball team. Texas Tech always has trouble with the Lobos on the road.
- Oklahoma (Friday, April 20-22) – This will be a revenge series for Texas Tech. The Red Raiders lost two series last season, both of which were against Oklahoma schools. This time, the Sooners come to Lubbock, where they haven’t won a game since 2012, Tadlock’s lone year as an assistant for the Red Raiders. Oklahoma had a good season last year, with a third place Big 12 finish and a trip to the NCAA tournament. OF Steele Walker is a projected first round pick, while Big 12 newcomer of the year Brylie Ware hopes to be drafted as well. The Sooners finished fourth in runs scored and sixth in runs allowed last season.
- at No. 3 Arkansas (Tuesday, April 24-25) – According to the polls, this may be the toughest weekday match Texas Tech has all season. The Red Raiders don’t have much recent history with the Razorbacks, but they did fall to them 10-6 in 2016. Arkansas finished second in the SEC West to NCAA runner-ups LSU, hosted an NCAA regional (lost to should’ve been host Missouri State) and have a projected high draft pick in Blaine Knight. The Razorbacks were third in runs scored, third in runs against and fourth in fielding percentage in the SEC last season.
- at No. 9 TCU (Friday, April 27-29) – Everyone has this series circled on their calendar. Texas Tech defeated TCU last season 2-1, including a 18 point mercy rule beatdown in the series finale. The Horn Frogs won the Big 12 with Tech, even though the Red Raiders beat them (I’ve always liked one winner when one team defeated the other) and advanced to the College World Series. The down side of the this series? It’s in Fort Worth, so fans need to come out. The bright side? This may be the last you’ll see Luken Baker, as him and Sean Wymer likely go pro. Baker and Jared Janczak were both named preseason All-Americans as well. TCU finished high in many national categories, which includes K/BB ratio (6th) and WHIP (11th).
- No. 31 San Diego (Tuesday, May 1) – Sounds weird to say, but this match against San Diego is one of the (if not the) easiest game in a three week span. The Toreros, who finished tied fourth in the West Coast Conference, feature a second team preseason All-American in Nick Sprengel, although may not face him due to the weekday match-up. They also have an All-WCC player in Jay Schuyler, who can play outfield or catcher. San Diego finished third in runs scored, third in runs against and second in fielding percentage in the WCC last season.
- No. 26 Texas (Friday, May 4-6) – I covered my first and only baseball series in Austin last year and watched Texas Tech sweep Texas for the first time ever. I even used a cheesy headline I thought of a few days prior (Sweep in the Heart of Texas). Well, even though they lost one of their aces, Texas is back, and not in the sarcastic way we all joke about the football team. They finished fifth in the conference and made the Long Beach State regional. They fourth nationally in fielding percentage, ninth in ERA and 12th in shutouts. They do return one of their ace pitchers and preseaon All-American in Nolan Kingham.
- No. 11 Dallas Baptist (Tuesday, May 8) – Another match-up with Dallas Baptist. This time the Red Raiders host them. This is the last game before final exams begin.
- at No. 27 Oklahoma State (Thursday, May 17-19) – This is the last series of the regular season, and likely what will decide the Big 12 title (not necessarily against Oklahoma State). This will be a tough series, as the Cowboys were 3-1 against the Red Raiders last year, and won the Big 12 tournament to make the postseason. They finished seventh in runs scored, seventh in runs scored against, and eighth in fielding percentage. Oddly enough, the Cowboys return one All-Big 12 honorable mention in C/OF Collin Simpson. They also return a Big 12 All-Freshman selection in OF Cade Cabbiness.
I won’t predict the record now. I’ll have a post later on about the Big 12 and where I think Tech will finish. Just know that another 40 win season might be upon us.