Thursday, May 24, 2012

Big 12 Orientation: Oklahoma State's other sports

Like Iowa State, the Pokes up at Okie Lite seem to have an infatuation with wrestling...or as I assume most of them say it, 'wrastlin'.  I'll still never understand the allure of watching two boys play Twister with each other- but I guess if you're going to spend the money to field teams in non-marquee sports, you might as well have a trophy case filled with hardware.  OSU's got that, as I assume that dusting off their 34 wrestling national championship trophies is a full-time job.

Cowboy fans, with their gigantic inferiority complex due to OU's dominance on the football field, are probably quick to point out that they've won 50 total team national titles- the 4th most of any Division 1 school in the nation.  On top of those 34 won by the wrestling team, they've won 10 men's golf titles, 3 in cross country, 2 in men's basketball and 1 in baseball.  Neato.

One of the earliest memories I have of Oklahoma State sports from childhood is being terrified of their mascot, which looks like the Cousin Eddie version of the creepy king from Burger King.  OSU fans would defend this creepiness with the semi-cool story of Pistol Pete's origins in Stillwater, but I'd counter that my pointing out that Pistol Pete is also the mascot at both Wyoming and New Mexico State.  That's good company!

MWC Tournament Preview

The Star-Telegram's story on the TCU baseball team this morning had the headline "TCU enters Mountain West Tournament with a solid pitching staff."  Now, I'm all for optimism and I certainly think the Frogs' pitching staff (which has been Omaha-caliber) definitely deserves credit for their performance.  But the storyline for this team headed into the conference tournament is, without a doubt, how their already-struggling offense can find a way to replace the productivity of the injured Jason Coats.

In what will all but certainly end up being his last ever plate appearance at Lupton Stadium on Sunday, Coats reached on a throwing error by San Diego State shortstop Evan Potter but twisted his knee as he rounded first base.  He was immediately pulled for a pinch runner, and on Monday it was determined that he would be out for at least this weekend with a sprain.  This means that, going into the most crucial weekend of the year so far, the Frogs will be without their best and most experienced hitter.  Coats accounted for nearly 20% of the team's total extra base hits, and his 45 runs batted in led the team by 11.

So who picks up the slack?  Junior catcher Josh Elander is second to Coats in just about every offensive category and junior third baseman Jantzen Witte has been solid at the plate since his mid-season return from injury, so certainly they'll be looked upon to produce this weekend.  But the Frogs will need other guys to step up and play a notch or two above what they have been over the course of the season.  Two prime candidates are freshmen Kevin Cron and Derek Odell, who have really come on as of late.  Cron, who's batting prowess in high school helped make him a 3rd round pick in last June's MLB Draft, has raised his batting average to .360 in 113 at-bats, and Odell is currently riding an 11-game hitting streak that dates back to his game-winning hit in the bottom of the 9th against Oklahoma on May 1st.  Senior outfielder Brance Rivera, whose .225 average denotes the season-long slump he's been in, would certainly be thrilled to get back to the superb form he showed as a sophomore (when he hit .342) and junior (.324).  Sophomore Brett Johnson ended the regular season on a high note, going 4-for-4 with a home run in the most recent win over SDSU.

The good news is, as Stefan Stevenson of the Star-Telegram wrote about this morning and as I mentioned above, the pitching staff ought to be able to get the job done this weekend even without a surprise breakout performance at the plate.  Freshman lefty Brandon Finnegan, who looked fantastic taking a no-hitter into the 8th in his last start on the road against OU, will get the start later today against the Aztecs.  That will give Schlossnagle some flexibility in choosing starters for subsequent games, regardless of which half of the bracket the Frogs advance through after the first game.

A win against SDSU this evening would put the Frogs in the winner's bracket, where they'd face the winner of tonight's New Mexico-UNLV game tomorrow night at 9:00pm.  If they were to fall to the Aztecs (as they did twice this season), they would face the loser between the Lobos and Rebels tomorrow at 5:00pm and would then have to win four straight to take home the trophy.

Morning Dump


Frogs open MWC Tournament today at 5:00pm vs. San Diego State

TCU enters MWC Tournament with solid pitching staff Star-Telegram


Predicting the Big 12's 3,000-yard passers for 2012 ESPN

How committed are Texas' college coaches to their current programs? Dave Campbell's Texas Football

Big 12 stuff:

Del Conte clarifies comments on Big 12 expansion Star-Telegram

Texas' Dodds says he's OK with Big 12 not expanding Orlando Sentinel

Report: Dodds admits to courting Notre Dame ESPN

GMFP and JJ Henry playing together in yesterday's Pro-Am at Colonial: