The Big 12 Conference Baseball Tournament begins in less than two weeks in Arlington, Texas.
Oklahoma State and TCU have already locked in tournament spots, sitting at 13-5 and 12-6 respectively. Closer to the bottom, Baylor (5-13), Kansas State (4-11) and Kansas (3-12) hold the seven, eight and nine spots and are battling to stay in contention as only the top eight teams advance.
There is a bit of a traffic jam in the middle of the standings but this weekend provides an opportunity for some separation, especially for WVU.
The Mountaineers are tied for fourth with the Sooners at 9-6, while Texas is right on their heels at 9-9. Those two programs are also WVU’s next opponents, with the Longhorns in Morgantown this weekend.
“That’s a cushion that’s nice to have at this point since you never know how these next two weekends are going to go because they are so offensive and we are having some issues on the mound,” head coach Randy Mazey said in an exclusive interview for the WVU Coaches Show. “Texas coming in here, they have an All-American at every position, you know, so they have some really good players, but it doesn’t matter who the best player is. It matters who plays the best so we are really going to have to play well these next couple of weekends.”
Due to weather, WVU and Texas will open the series with a doubleheader on Saturday beginning at 2 p.m. The finale is currently scheduled for a 1 p.m. start on Sunday.
Texas Tech is at No. 3 with an 11-7 mark, but it’s one of three teams taking a break from conference action this weekend, leaving the door open for some movement in the middle of the pack. The Red Raiders and Bears are idle until next week while the first-place Cowboys welcome Southeast Missouri State for a three-game series.
Oklahoma plays at second-place TCU this weekend. The Sooners are coming off back-to-back series wins. They swept Kansas before taking two of three from the Wildcats last weekend. OU opened Big 12 play with a series win over Baylor before being downed the following two weekends by UT and OSU.
Here are the scenarios in which WVU jumps up the standings:
WVU sweeps Texas, TCU sweeps Oklahoma: Of course taking all three from the Longhorns is the ideal outcome. That would put the Mountaineers one win ahead of TTU and provide some separation as far as the Sooners and Longhorns are concerned as they both would remain at 9 wins. TCU would also take over the top spot at 15-6.
WVU takes Texas series, TCU series win over Oklahoma: If the Mountaineers can win two of three against the Longhorns, then they will tie TTU at 11-7 and UT will fall to 10-11. That would lift TCU to the top of the standings at 14-7 and leave OU 10-8.
WVU takes Texas series, Oklahoma series win over TCU: If WVU and OU both earn series wins, they will move to a three-way tie with TTU at 11-7. TCU would still remain ahead at 13-8 in this scenario.
Now, if the Mountaineers get swept, they will fall to 9-9, allowing Texas to hold 12 wins. WVU can afford one Oklahoma victory, leaving the Sooners at 10-8 following this weekend. However, that scenario only offers some cushion if Mazey’s ball club takes at least two from Texas.
The Mountaineers and Sooners clash next weekend, making a series win over Texas even more crucial. The lowest WVU can fall is to No. 6 while it could also jump three spots north and position itself in the top three.
With the remaining conference schedule, any positive movement WVU can make in the standings this weekend could be the difference in its conference tournament seeding.
The remaining Big 12 Conference regular-season schedule:
This weekend: Texas at WVU, Oklahoma at TCU, Kansas at Kansas State, Southeast Missouri State at Oklahoma State. (Texas Tech and Baylor are idle)
5/13-5/15: WVU at Oklahoma, Texas Tech at Oklahoma State, Baylor at Kansas State, TCU at Kansas. (Texas is idle)
5/19-5/21: Kansas State at WVU, Oklahoma State at Baylor, Oklahoma at Texas Tech, Kansas at Texas, Santa Clara at TCU.