Quick, name the conference leaders in hitting and pitching.
Did you guess Texas for both? Because you're right if you did.
The Longhorns are leading the conference in batting average, second in OBP, first in slugging (!), first in home runs (!!) and only third in sacrifices (!!!). The pitching part probably doesn't surprise you but is still nice to see.
But wait, there's more. What if I told you that a Texas Longhorn hitter would rank third and another fifth in the conference in batting average at the conference season's midway point. Before the seasons you probably would've guessed Mark Payton and CJ Hinajosa would be hot. You'd have been wrong, my friend. How embarrassing.
Through 12 games it's Tres Barrera that's third in the conference with a .370 average and Zane Gurwitz (!) hitting .357. Payton's hitting a downright pedestrian (for him at least) .275 in conference play though he does have a big hit or two.
Texas continued to stay hot on offense on Tuesday, putting up 10 runs on just seven hits. The big blows were a Ben Johnson two run homer and a Tres Barrera triple with the bases juiced. UTA took advantage of Blake Goins and his total lack of command but Chad Hollingsworth brilliantly pitched out of a bases loaded & nobody out situation to close the door on any possible upset.
This Thursday-Saturday Texas will get to take it's offense against the conference's second best hitting team with pitchers who may not be a great match up for the Horns. The Horns will need to stay hot to add to their impressive resume which has at least one prognosticator calling them the overall #1 seed in all the land.
It's TCU time.
TCU enters at 22-13, ranked #36 in ISR against the 36th ranked SoS and an RPI of 35th. The Horned Frogs are 7-5 in Big 12 play with series victories over West Virginia and Kansas and series losses to Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. TCU is 3-7 versus top 40 ISR teams this season.
The Horned Frogs are a tough squad this season largely on the prowess of starting pitchers Brandon Finnegan and Preston Morrison. The duo have been exceedingly impressive on the year, combining for three complete games, four shutouts, 121 innings pitched, opponent batting averages of .199 and .224 respectively and a 10-5 record. Finnegan is a tough match up, having struck out 84 batters on the season while walking 17. Sam Houston State scored five runs on Finnegan in his third start of the year. Every other team has combined to score seven runs in eight starts. If Texas can survive Finnegan and Morrison though the task eases. TCU only has one pitcher outside of that duo with double digit innings thrown this season and an ERA below three (that would be closer Riley Ferrell).
On offense, sophomore Boomer White (why is this guy not a Sooner?) leads the way with a .379 batting average. White doesn't strike out a lot (only 12 in 140 ABs) but he doesn't walk a ton either (only 12 in 140 ABs). TCU as a whole walks a good bit and avoids the strikeout, though they only have four players at or above the team average. Leadoff hitter Cody Jones is only hitting .264 but he draws a ton of walks (.395 OBP) and has stolen a ton of bases (16 of 19). The Horned Frogs will run 78 attempts on the year but they aren't terribly efficient at it outside of Jones (65% success rate compared to 81% for Texas).
Texas needs to score a few runs off the Friday and Saturday starters and get good starts from Peters and French. If the Horns get that then a fourth straight conference series win should be within sights. If not then control of the Big 12 may slip away.
First pitch is tonight at 6 PM. This'll be your open thread. Abram and I are traveling this weekend so Peter will take you the rest of the way this weekend.