The Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championships will still take place, although the dates and the format have changed.
After a devastating tornado caused massive damage in Oklahoma City this week, the league decided to push back the start from Wednesday to Thursday. While there was a discussion about whether to cancel the tournament altogether, local leaders asked the Big 12 to keep it alive (via ESPN).
The event will still take place in Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City, although it will no longer by a double-elimination tournament as previously scheduled. Instead, there will be two pools with the winner of each playing each other for the title.
One pool includes Kansas State, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Baylor. Whoever comes out of that group will face the winner of Oklahoma State, West Virginia, Kansas and TCU, who will compete in the second pool.
Here is a full look at the schedule for the upcoming games (via OKCallSports.org).
Thursday, May 23
|No. 4 Oklahoma vs. No. 5 Baylor||10 a.m.||Fox College Sports|
|No. 1 Kansas State vs. No. 8 Texas Tech||1:30 p.m.||Fox College Sports|
|No. 3 West Virginia vs. No. 6 Kansas||5 p.m.||Fox College Sports|
|No. 2 Oklahoma State vs. No. 7 TCU||8:30 p.m.||Fox College Sports|
Friday, May 24
|No. 4 Oklahoma vs. No. 8 Texas Tech||10 a.m.||Fox College Sports|
|No. 1 Kansas State vs. No. 5 Baylor||1:30 p.m.||Fox College Sports|
|No. 3 West Virginia vs. No. 7 TCU||5 p.m.||Fox College Sports|
|No. 2 Oklahoma State vs. No. 6 Kansas||8:30 p.m.||Fox College Sports
Saturday, May 25
|No. 5 Baylor vs. No. 8 Texas Tech||10 a.m.||Fox College Sports|
|No. 1 Kansas State vs. No. 4 Oklahoma||1:30 p.m.||Fox College Sports|
|No. 2 Oklahoma State vs. No. 3 West Virginia||5 p.m.||Fox College Sports|
|No. 6 Kansas vs. No. 7 TCU||8:30 p.m.||Fox College Sports
Sunday, May 26
|Championship Game||Time (ET)||TV|
|Pool 1 Winner vs. Pool 2 Winner||2 p.m.||FSN|
Teams to Watch
The Big 12 regular-season champions are the obvious favorites heading into this tournament. However, this format will make things harder as it leaves little room for error.
Jake Matthys is easily the best pitcher on the roster and should continue to dominate like he has throughout the year. However, the question will be if the rest of the staff can pick up the slack and make sure the Wildcats keep winning.
There are a lot of great hitters in this lineup, but even they could have a hard time keeping up on the scoreboard if the pitchers do not come through in one of the games.
The second-best hitting team in the conference also has a deep rotation of pitchers, which is a good recipe for success.
Who will win the Big 12 tournament?
Between Zach Fish and Tanner Krietemeier, the Cowboys have a great middle of the batting order that is capable of bringing in runs with timely hits. As long as the other hitters get on base, the offense is as strong as they come.
If Oklahoma State can continue to play as well as it has in recent weeks, it will be able to win the conference tournament for the first time since 2004.
If there is going to be a major upset in this tournament, TCU could be the team to do it. The Horned Frogs struggled in their first year in the Big 12, but they have come on strong lately and are as hot as any team in the field.
The team has won seven of the last 10 games and is capable of winning the three or four games necessary to get the championship.
Additionally, TCU has one of the best pitching staffs in the conference. In Big 12 games, the squad led the conference with a 2.47 ERA thanks mostly to the contributions of Preston Morrison and Alex Young.
With these pitchers on the hill, anything is possible.
Note: All stats courtesy of Big12Sports.com.