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Big 12 Baseball 2012: Kansas Could Climb All The Way To Third Place With Weekend Sweep

Baylor is off to a record-setting 10-0 start in the Big 12 Conference baseball race, but 12 of their remaining 15 games are away from home

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The Baylor Bears are perfect in Big 12 baseball so far this season.
The Baylor Bears are perfect in Big 12 baseball so far this season.

With a third of the Big 12 baseball season in the books, Baylor is threatening to run away and hide in the league standings. The Bears are a perfect 10-0 in conference play. What's misleading about that, however, is that Baylor's first nine conference wins all came at home over three successive weekends.

The Bears' 10-0 league start is the best in Big 12 history and also represents the longest consecutive-game streak on record in a single season. The previous undefeated streak to begin Big 12 play was seven straight wins by Texas in 1999

The Bears are on the road this weekend at Missouri for the first time in Big 12 action, and they extended their winning streak to 12 games on Thursday with a 3-1 win vs. the Tigers (16-12, 3-4), who are playing their final season in the Big 12 before becoming a member of the Southeastern Conference. Baylor plays 12 of its next 15 conference games away from home.

Three of the four conference games scheduled this weekend are Thursday-Saturday series instead of Friday-Sunday because of the Easter holiday. Kansas at Oklahoma State is the one exception to that scheduling shift. Regarding the Kansas series with OSU in Stillwater, the Jayhawks (12-16, 2-4) have a chance at moving up several spots in the standings if they have a big series against the last-place Cowboys (14-14, 1-5).

Depending on how Missouri does on Friday and Saturday against Baylor, a sweep against Oklahoma State could move Kansas into fourth place behind Texas or Texas A&M, which would representative a significant change for the team projected in the preseason to finish last in the conference.

The rest of the weekend Big 12 baseball schedule has Oklahoma (18-12, 4-6) at fifth-ranked Texas A&M (24-6, 5-2), and second-place Texas (16-11, 6-1) at eighth-place Texas Tech (17-14, 2-8). Kansas State (15-14, 3-6) goes out of the conference this weekend, hosting Sacred Heart out of Fairfield, Ct.

One other Big 12 team is ranked this week in the USAToday/ESPN Top 25 Coaches Poll: Baylor is ranked 18th. Texas is ranked 25th in two other polls. Baylor ranks eighth in the Collegiate Baseball poll and Oklahoma is ranked 22nd by the National College Baseball Writers Association.

Three Big 12 pitchers are among the top 20 nationally in strikeouts: Oklahoma State's Andrew Hearney has 69 Ks for the season, third best in the country entering this week; Ross Stipling of Texas A&M has struck out 53, good enough for 16th in the country, and Michael Wacha, another starter for the Aggies, ranks 20th with 52. Oklahoma State is first in the nation in strikeouts per nine innings, averaging 9.4 as a team.

A big 12 team ranks in the top five nationally this week in three different offensive categories: triples (Texas, second); doubles (Texas Tech, third); stolen bases (Texas A&M, fourth); walks (Oklahoma State, tied for fourth).

Big 12 Baseball By The Numbers

.981 - Team fielding percentage for Kansas State, best in the conference. Kansas is second with a .978 fielding percentage.

8 - Number of Big 12 teams with winning records through Thursday's games. Only Kansas has a losing record in all games at 12-16.

12 - Tanner Witt, junior right-fielder for Kansas State, has 12 more walks than strikeouts (22 to 10), the best walk-to-strikeout ratio among the ten best hitters in the conference through all games.

14 - Hit streaks this season by both junior outfielder Blake Brown of Missouri and Zach Fish, a freshman infielder for Oklahoma State.

26 - Sophomore outfielder Mark Payton of Texas has reached base in all 26 of the Longhorns games this season.

31 - Runs batted in for Kansas State senior first-baseman Wade Hinkle through 29 games, one less than the conference leader, senior inflielder Jacob House of Texas A&M.

105 - Stolen-base attempts by Texas A&M, almost double the number of any other Big 12 team.

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