It's an all-baseball Links post today!
What happens when you go 12-0 with a 2.66 ERA, 3 shutouts, and 111 K's in just 91.1 IP? You win Big 12 Pitcher of the year, that's what. Congrats to Crow and his fellow 1st-Team all-conferencers, DH Jacob Priday and OF Aaron Senne. C Trevor Coleman found his way onto the 2nd-team, while SP Kyle Gibson, 2B Greg Folgia, and OF Ryan Lollis were Honorable Mention.
As we prepare for today's Big 12 Tourney opener, the Trib takes a look at 1B Steve Gray and the difference his bat has made recently (he's come around nicely this year, which is good--his bat will be that much more important next year without Jacob Priday in the cleanup spot), while the Missourian takes a macro look at just how Mizzou's been doing lately, and the Post-Dispatch observes the Tigers' current positive vibe.
Alright, forget the journalists--what does the real Mizzou Baseball expert have to say?
1) Mizzou could have a shot at hosting a Regional IF: Having swept the highly-ranked (in the polls, in the Big XII, and in the RPI) Nebraska Cornhuskers, the Tigers could ride this surge in offense and return of pitching prowess to a 4-game sweep and win in the Big XII Tournament. Such a performance would grab the attention of the NCAA Baseball Committee in a number of ways:
- MU's season wins total would top the fabled 40 mark
- This late-season surge, including a Big XII Tournament win, would grab the attention of the committee members as well.
- MU's RPI would similar to the quick rise the Husker sweep brought about. Winning 3 games against NU, ranked #6 in the official NCAA Baseball RPI going into the weekend, prompted a rise in Missouri's RPI from 44th to 31st (according to BoydsWorld.com and WarrenNolan.com; the NCAA official RPI will not be updated online until late Tuesday).
A similar 4-game sweep of the Big XII Tournament, including wins against Texas A&M, Texas and Oklahoma in the first three rounds, would prompt a similar leap in MU's RPI rankings (depending on the performance of the teams currently ranked about Missouri, of course). The Big XII Championship game would probably be played after the committee makes its decisions about hosts, but a strong run through the first three games would put MU in good position)
A second straight weekend jump of 12-15 places would put the tigers in the Top 20 RPI. Only 16 teams host, so being in or near the top 20 RPI is almost a necessity to be awarded a hosting.
I don't see us sweeping through four games, but it's nice to have something to shoot for again.
Okay, I lied--here are a couple non-baseball links.
First up, Big 12 coaches considered bumping the conference basketball slate from 16 games to 18, but as quickly as the idea was broached, it was squelched. I'm fine with 16.
Finally, PowerMizzou takes a post-spring look at K-State football, the Big 12 wildcard for '08 with their 19 JUCO kids. One quick comment:
What is the strength of the offense coming out of spring ball?
TF: It's time for junior quarterback Josh Freeman to step forward into a leadership role. He has a promising offensive line in front of him and junior running back Leon Patton to help make plays, but the offense is going to have to become Freeman-centered.
Actually, leadership isn't Freeman's problem--he simply needs to improve on his often-horrendous accuracy and touch. Halfway through his college career, he still can't harness the cannon on his shoulder. That's a wee bit of a problem, and it's why I tend to scoff when I see his name high on "future pro" projections. I understand he looks the part and all that, but at some point you have to be able to make passes under duress, and he still has to prove he can do that. Not saying he won't, but he hasn't yet.