Five non-conference baseball series to follow in the Big 12


1. (5) UCLA vs. (27) Baylor, Feb. 22-24, Waco - UCLA visits Waco in the second weekend of the college baseball season. The Bruins will be led by starting pitcher Adam Plutko, a preseason All-American who went 12-3 last season with a 2.48 ERA. The Bruins also have relief pitcher David Berg, a preseason second-team All-American, who returns after a 2012 campaign in which he posted a 1.46 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 74 innings pitched. The Bears will counter with 2012 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year Nathan Orf at the plate. Orf had a .453 on-base percentage throughout last season, and struck out as many times as he walked (33). Max Garner, Baylor’s closer, is another guy to watch for if the Bears have a lead late in games.

2. (26) Texas vs. (7) Stanford, Mar. 1-3, Palo Alto, California - The Texas Longhorns will travel back to Palo Alto, looking to avenge last season’s embarrassing sweep at the hands of the Cardinal. During that series, the Longhorns were outscored 28-5 over a three-game span in which they never led. Stanford returns Mark Appel, who won the 2012 NCBWA Pitcher of the Year Award with a 10-2 record, a 2.56 ERA, and 130 strikeouts in only 123 innings pitched. Texas returns most of its squad, and the Appel vs. Erich Weiss battle will be intrigued. Weiss batted .350 with 38 RBIs playing in every game last season should be more intriguing than Weiss’ 1-for-4 against Appel last season. The Longhorns also return Corey Knebel, who is lights out in close ballgames. If Texas can get ahead late in any games of this series, Knebel (career 1.67 ERA and 28 saves) should be able to bring home a "W" for the ‘Horns.

3. (13) TCU vs. (25) Ole Miss, Feb. 15-17, Oxford, Miss. - TCU opens up its 2013 campaign on the road at a talented Ole Miss team. Mississippi is expecting big things this season, with a preseason rank of No. 13 by Baseball America, its highest ranking ever. The Rebels have senior Tanner Mathis, who hit .359 last season and transfer catcher Stuart Turner Jr., who should help carry the lineup. The stud of TCU’s lineup is Kevin Cron, who hit .338 and drove in 34 RBIs as a freshman in 2012.

4. (23) Cal State Fullerton vs (13) TCU, Feb. 22-24, Fort Worth - The Titans have perhaps the most versatile player in the college game in junior outfielder/relief pitcher Michael Lorenzen. Lorenzen hit .297 last season with 43 RBIs and 14 stolen bases. On top of all of this he was a stud on the mound, pitching 22 innings with a 1.23 ERA and 16 saves. For TCU, Preston Morrison is the Friday starter having gone 9-2 with a 2.08 ERA as a freshman last season.

5. Oral Roberts vs. (17) Oklahoma on March 19-20 in Norman, Oklahoma and on March 26th in Tulsa, Oklahoma - Drew Bowden returns as a senior for Oral Roberts as a preseason third team All-American, having posted a 7-2 record and a 1.95 ERA for the Golden Eagles in 2012. If he gets to face off against OU’s Dillon Overton (6-3 record, 3.15 ERA and 126 strikeouts in 122.7 innings last season) their appearance could turn into a pitchers' duel.