2008 BAYLOR BASEBALL PREVIEW: Bears look to redefine Big 12 baseball as team strives for postseason success

by dentonramsey

2008 BAYLOR BASEBALL PREVIEW: Bears look to redefine Big 12 baseball as team strives for postseason success

By Denton Ramsey, NCAA Sportswriter/Big 12 Fans Baylor Correspondent

 

WACO, Texas – With Baylor’s baseball team having eight pitchers returning, as well as adding four freshman to the mound, the Bears are hoping to have some postseason success this year after 2007 saw the group take an early exit in the NCAA Houston Regional.

Baylor last tasted true playoff success when the Bears reached the pinnacle of NCAA baseball by getting to the College World Series in 2005 – eventually falling to the Texas Longhorns in a controversial and heated match-up.

“The expectations [for the 2008 Baylor Baseball season] are extremely high, and we’re holding ourselves accountable,” Baylor senior relief pitcher Nick Cassavechia said. “The expectations on the team are really high, and everyone else has expectations, too. We’re expecting to make it back to Omaha and get a national championship.”

For the time being, we’ll let the past be the past and will focus on the here and now – the 2008 NCAA baseball season.

Preseason polls have Baylor ranked as high as 15 according to the Baseball America Preseason College Top 25 (NCAA.com), with the Bears compiling an overall 2007 record of 35-27 (while garnering a disappointing 12-15 mark in the Big 12).

“I participate in those rankings, so I buy them,” Baylor Head Coach Steve Smith said. “Time will tell. This sport determines its champion on the field and not in the polls, so that’s one good thing we have going for us.”

The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA), meanwhile, has the Bears ranked 26 in preseason polls, while the USA Today/ESPN Preseason Poll places the BU baseball team at 24.

“We should compete for the [Big 12 Conference] championship, but there are other good teams in this league that could feel just as strongly,” Smith said. “The league is good, there are some very good teams in it, and Missouri has probably got their strongest team in the history of their school. There are some other programs in the league that are just as capable of setting that goal.”

Baylor joins four other Big 12 teams in many of the preseason rankings – showing the need to succeed in conference play in ’08 as the Bears aim for a much more successful season in the Big 12.

“It [our team] is very experienced, but it’s still very young,” Smith said. “I just think it’s extremely talented. I don’t think we’ve ever had as much talent across the board – offensive, defensive and pitching – as we have right now.

“They’re highly motivated, they’re very disciplined, and they’ve set their goals really high. They’re all smart kids. They look around and they know how good this club can be, and they’re going to apply themselves. We’ll play it out on the field over the course of the next few months and we’ll see how it shakes out.”

The Bears begin the 2008 season with a three-game series beginning Feb. 22 at Baylor Ballpark, hosting Purdue with the opening pitch slated for 6:30 p.m. on Friday evening.

“We’re going to be able to match up offensively with anyone in the country,” Baylor sophomore outfielder Aaron Miller said. “All the way up and down the lineup we have so many power threats that one swing can drastically change a game.”

The Bears return 19 lettermen from the 2007 squad, returning with six starters and eight pitchers while entering the ’08 season with 11 newcomers.

“From an opposing team view, attacking our lineup is going to be really hard because we have so many match-up problems with left-handed and right-handed power, and with guys who can run,” Miller said. “We have three or four guys who can hit a home run, get a triple, or steal a base, so it’s going to be really hard to match up with our lineup.”

After Saturday’s season opener in Waco, the Bears conclude their series with Purdue on Saturday, Feb. 23 at 3 p.m., and Sunday, Feb. 24 at noon.

“A lot of people are looking forward to this year with everybody that we’ve got coming back and all of the firepower,” Miller said. “We’re all anxious to take it off of paper and put it on the field to see what we can do.”

For many of the Baylor baseball players, just hitting the field for regular season play will be a blessing – as the Bears aim to prove to the nation, as well as the Big 12 conference, that they are a much-improved team from 2007.

“We’ve definitely got some talent out here, so it should be a great year,” Baylor junior shortstop Beamer Weems said. “Omaha is where we want to go, so we’ll see what happens. Hopefully we’ll start off well this season and take it from there.”

The Bears return to the diamond on Tuesday, Feb. 26 at Baylor Ballpark, against Texas Southern at 6:30 p.m. before hosting the QTI Baylor Classic beginning Friday, Feb. 29, and running through Sunday, March 2.

Teams invited to this year’s QTI Baylor Classic include Illinois, Illinois-Chicago and Stephen F. Austin.

After hosting the annual tourney in Waco, the Bears have two more home games – a two-game series against Louisiana Tech (Tuesday, March 4 at 6:30 p.m. and Wednesday, March 5 at 4 p.m.) before hitting the road for a three-game series with Mississippi State (March 7-9) and a two-game series with Oral Roberts (March 11-12).

“We’ve got great leadership on the team,” Weems said. “The freshman came in here and worked really hard this year. From the freshman to the seniors, everybody’s working really hard, and there’s a lot of dedication out here so it should be fun.”

 

Denton Ramsey may be reached via email at denton.ramsey@gmail.com

 

 

2008 Baylor Baseball Schedule

Date

Opponent / Event

Location

Time

02/22/08

vs. Purdue

Baylor Ballpark

6:30 p.m. CT

02/23/08

vs. Purdue

Baylor Ballpark

3:00 p.m. CT

02/24/08

vs. Purdue

Baylor Ballpark

12:00 p.m. CT

02/26/08

vs. Texas Southern

Baylor Ballpark

6:30 p.m. CT

02/29/08

vs. Illinois

Baylor Ballpark (QTIBC)

6:30 p.m. CT

03/01/08

vs. Illinois-Chicago

Baylor Ballpark (QTIBC)

6:30 p.m. CT

03/02/08

vs. Stephen F. Austin

Baylor Ballpark (QTIBC)

3:00 p.m. CT

03/04/08

vs. Louisiana Tech

Baylor Ballpark

6:30 p.m. CT

03/05/08

vs. Louisiana Tech

Baylor Ballpark

4:00 p.m. CT

03/07/08

at Mississippi State

Starkville, Miss.

4:00 p.m. CT

03/08/08

at Mississippi State

Starkville, Miss.

2:00 p.m. CT

03/09/08

at Mississippi State

Starkville, Miss.

1:30 p.m. CT

03/11/08

at Oral Roberts

Tulsa, Okla.

3:00 p.m. CT

03/12/08

at Oral Roberts

Tulsa, Okla.

3:00 p.m. CT

03/14/08

vs. Oklahoma State

Baylor Ballpark

6:30 p.m. CT

03/15/08

vs. Oklahoma State

Baylor Ballpark

6:30 p.m. CT

03/16/08

vs. Oklahoma State

Baylor Ballpark

1:00 p.m. CT

03/18/08

vs. Sam Houston State

Baylor Ballpark

6:30 p.m. CT

03/21/08

at Missouri

Columbia, Mo.

6:30 p.m. CT

03/22/08

at Missouri

Columbia, Mo.

2:00 p.m. CT

03/23/08

at Missouri

Columbia, Mo.

1:00 p.m. CT

03/25/08

vs. Houston Baptist

Baylor Ballpark

6:30 p.m. CT

03/26/08

vs. TAMU-Corpus Christi

Baylor Ballpark

4:00 p.m. CT

03/28/08

at Oklahoma

Norman, Okla.

6:00 p.m. CT

03/29/08

at Oklahoma

Norman, Okla.

2:00 p.m. CT

03/30/08

at Oklahoma

Norman, Okla.

1:00 p.m. CT

04/01/08

at TCU TV

Fort Worth, Texas

7:00 p.m. CT

04/02/08

vs. UTSA

Baylor Ballpark

6:30 p.m. CT

04/04/08

vs. Kansas

Baylor Ballpark

6:30 p.m. CT

04/05/08

vs. Kansas

Baylor Ballpark

6:30 p.m. CT

04/06/08

vs. Kansas

Baylor Ballpark

1:00 p.m. CT

04/08/08

vs. TCU

Baylor Ballpark

6:30 p.m. CT

04/09/08

vs. UT Arlington

Baylor Ballpark

6:30 p.m. CT

04/11/08

at Kansas State

Manhattan, Kan.

6:30 p.m. CT

04/12/08

at Kansas State

Manhattan, Kan.

2:00 p.m. CT

04/13/08

at Kansas State

Manhattan, Kan.

1:00 p.m. CT

04/15/08

vs. Dallas Baptist

Baylor Ballpark

6:30 p.m. CT

04/16/08

at Dallas Baptist

Dallas, Texas

6:30 p.m. CT

04/18/08

at Texas A&M

College Station, Texas

6:00 p.m. CT

04/19/08

vs. Texas A&M

Baylor Ballpark

6:30 p.m. CT

04/20/08

vs. Texas A&M

Baylor Ballpark

2:00 p.m. CT

04/22/08

vs. Texas TV

Baylor Ballpark

7:00 p.m. CT

04/23/08

at Texas State

San Marcos, Texas

6:00 p.m. CT

04/25/08

vs. Nebraska

Baylor Ballpark

6:30 p.m. CT

04/26/08

vs. Nebraska TV

Baylor Ballpark

6:30 p.m. CT

04/27/08

vs. Nebraska

Baylor Ballpark

1:00 p.m. CT

04/29/08

at UT Arlington

Arlington, Texas

6:30 p.m. CT

05/02/08

vs. Texas

Baylor Ballpark

6:30 p.m. CT

05/03/08

at Texas TV

Austin, Texas

2:30 p.m. CT

05/04/08

at Texas TV

Austin, Texas

1:00 p.m. CT

05/13/08

vs. Texas State

Waco, Texas

6:30 p.m. CT

05/14/08

vs. Stephen F. Austin

Baylor Ballpark

6:30 p.m. CT

05/16/08

at Texas Tech

Lubbock, Texas

6:05 p.m. CT

05/17/08

at Texas Tech

Lubbock, Texas

2:00 p.m. CT

05/18/08

at Texas Tech

Lubbock, Texas

1:00 p.m. CT

05/21/08

Big 12 Championship

Oklahoma City, Okla.

TBA

05/22/08

Big 12 Championship

Oklahoma City, Okla.

TBA

05/23/08

Big 12 Championship

Oklahoma City, Okla.

TBA

05/24/08

Big 12 Championship

Oklahoma City, Okla.

TBA

05/25/08

Big 12 Championship

Oklahoma City, Okla.

TBA

05/30/08

NCAA Regional

Campus Sites

TBA

05/31/08

NCAA Regional

Campus Sites

TBA

06/01/08

NCAA Regional

Campus Sites

TBA

06/02/08

NCAA Regional

Campus Sites

TBA

06/06/08

NCAA Super Regional

Campus Sites

TBA

06/07/08

NCAA Super Regional

Campus Sites

TBA

06/08/08

NCAA Super Regional

Campus Sites

TBA

06/09/08

NCAA Super Regional

Campus Sites

TBA

06/14/08

NCAA College World Series

Omaha, Neb.

TBA

06/15/08

NCAA College World Series

Omaha, Neb.

TBA

06/16/08

NCAA College World Series

Omaha, Neb.

TBA

06/17/08

NCAA College World Series

Omaha, Neb.

TBA

06/18/08

NCAA College World Series

Omaha, Neb.

TBA

06/19/08

NCAA College World Series

Omaha, Neb.

TBA

06/20/08

NCAA College World Series

Omaha, Neb.

TBA

06/21/08

NCAA College World Series

Omaha, Neb.

TBA

06/22/08

NCAA College World Series

Omaha, Neb.

TBA

06/23/08

NCAA College World Series

Omaha, Neb.

TBA

06/24/08

NCAA College World Series

Omaha, Neb.

TBA

06/25/08

NCAA College World Series

Omaha, Neb.

TBA

 

 

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