College : : Story
Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Texas two-step for the Big 12

Kendall Rogers        

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Rivals Texas and Texas A&M had a fierce race to the Big 12 regular season title last season. In the end, the Aggies and Longhorns split the regular season title, with A&M claiming the Big 12 tournament title.

Those not wanting to see bunt orange or maroon fight for this year’s Big 12 title likely will be disappointed.

Once again this season, the Aggies and Longhorns both expect to field College World Series-quality teams. The Longhorns have an incredibly deep pitching staff with starting pitcher Sam Stafford and hard-throwing closer Corey Knebel leading the way. Meanwhile, the Aggies have one of the nation’s best – if not the best – one-two punch on the weekend in right-handers Michael Wacha and Ross Stripling. They also welcome back a productive offensive lineup.

The Big 12 title possibly could mean more this spring, as the Aggies will depart following the 2012 campaign to join the Southeastern Conference. Missouri will do the same, while the Big 12 adds TCU and West Virginia.

While the Aggies and ‘Horns lead the way, there are other teams with vastly different plans – namely Oklahoma and Baylor.

The Sooners lost several key cogs from last year’s team, but still are expected to be very solid with Dillon Overton and others leading the weekend rotation. Newcomers Jonathan Gray and Damien Magnifico also look to provide powerful punches.

Baylor is a small step behind the Sooners, but, too, is expected to be good this spring. The Bears should be improved offensively with the return of catcher Josh Ludy, first baseman Max Muncy and ultra-talented outfielder Logan Vick, while junor left-hander Josh Turley leads the starting rotation.

Oklahoma State and Texas Tech certainly could surprise and finish in the top three, while Missouri and Kansas State have enough talent to make some noise.

For now, it looks like the Big 12 will have some serious Texas flavor.



HOW THEY STACK UP
Overall/conference won-loss records from 2011 indicated; expectation level denoted -- College World Series= CWS, NCAA Super Regional= SR, NCAA Regional= R



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