Big 12 Baseball 2012 Season Review
Courtesy: Big12Sports.com
          Release: 07/12/2012
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Three league squads finished the season ranked in all four national polls. Baylor checked in at No. 9 and No. 10, while Oklahoma received a No. 14 spot in three of the four. Texas A&M's rankings ranged from No. 14, 18 and 19, with its highest coming from Baseball America. The Big 12 has had three or more teams in the final rankings every year since 1997. The No. 9 spot for the Bears ties their highest finish (1999), while Oklahoma has finished ranked in the top 25 for the past five years and Texas A&M for the past six.

The Big 12 has had at least three teams with 40 or more wins in each season since 1997. For the 11th straight year, a trio of league teams ranked in the RPI top 25. Baylor finished fifth - its third top five ranking as a member of the league. Overall, the Conference has had eight teams finish in the top 5.

Four teams (Baylor, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas A&M) earned berths to the 2012 NCAA Division I Baseball Championship. BU claimed the No. 4 national seed. The Big 12's four selections tied for the fourth-most by a conference on the year. Overall the league has had 87 appearances.

The Big 12 posted a 10-6 record in NCAA Regional play with Baylor and Oklahoma going 4-1 to claim regional series wins. Baylor clinched the Waco Regional to earn a Super Regional spot for the first time since 2005 and fourth time overall, becoming the 12th league team to host. Oklahoma took the Charlottesville Regional and made its third Super Regional appearance after advancing in 2006 and 2010. It marked the third straight season the Big 12 has sent multiple teams to Super Regional play. The Bears fell to Arkansas in three games in Waco, while the Sooners lost to South Carolina.

The Big 12 has tallied 27 Super Regional appearances since the format was established in 1999, including multiple representatives in 12 years. The Conference is 35-35 in Super Regional contests and improved to 176-131 in NCAA Regional play after this year's games. Overall, the Conference has a 233-191 record in postseason play.

The Big 12 notched 46 MLB draft selections, including four picks in the opening round. Andrew Heaney (OSU) was selected ninth overall by Miami, while Tyler Naquin (TAMU) went 15th overall to Cleveland and Michael Wacha (TAMU) was selected 19th by St. Louis. Barrett Barnes was the 45th pick as part of the supplemental round, taken by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Baylor's 18-0 start in league play shattered the previous record for the best start in Conference history (Texas, 7-0, 1999). The Bears also broke the Big 12 record for longest winning streak in conference play, passing Texas' 17-game streak in 2010. BU's 24-game overall win streak is also a Big 12 record, eclipsing Texas' mark of 21 games in 2010, and a BU program record. The Bears' 20-4 Big 12 mark ranks as the second-best winning percentage in conference history (.833).

Baylor claimed its third regular season crown (2005, '00) and led the Big 12 in wins for the first time in league history while also ranking first in batting average, slugging percentage, hits, runs, doubles, home runs and RBI. Individually, Steve Smith (Coach of the Year), Josh Ludy (Player of the Year) and Nathan Orf (Newcomer of the Year) collected Big 12 postseason awards.

Baylor recorded the most All-Big 12 selections with nine total, while Texas A&M had seven recipients. Six individuals became two-time first team members - Max Muncy (Baylor), Erich Weiss (Texas), Corey Knebel (Texas), Tyler Naquin (Texas A&M), Ross Stripling (Texas A&M) and Barrett Barnes (Texas Tech).

The Big 12 Pitcher of the Year went to Andrew Heaney (Oklahoma State), who became the first league hurler to lead the nation in strikeouts with 140 on the season. In 15 starts, Heaney was 8-2 with a 1.60 ERA. He tossed six complete games, including three shutouts, and racked up 118.1 innings of work. Opponents hit just .180 against him. Heaney's three shutouts were one shy of the Big 12 single-season record and are fifth on OSU's career list.

Fellow pitcher Parker French (Texas) took home Freshman of the Year honors after finishing the 2012 season with a 6-2 record over 21 games for the Longhorns. His ERA of 2.84 at the end of the year made him the only league freshman ranked in the top 15 for that category.

Missouri won its first Big 12 Championship and first postseason conference title since 1980 with an 8-7 victory over Oklahoma in this year's tournament. The Tigers, who had made the postseason final in 2004, '09 and '11, hit .359 as a team at the event.

Oklahoma's Dillon Overton fanned seven in the loss, finishing with 15 total strikeouts to pass Jason Jennings of Baylor (14 in 1999) for the most by an individual in a single tournament.

Josh Ludy became the first Baylor player to lead the league in slugging percentage and home runs. He also led the Big 12 in RBI - the first time by a BU player since 1998. The senior set a Big 12 Championship record with a 1.727 slugging percentage over four games.

On the Big 12 career charts, Jamodrick McGurder finished his Texas Tech career ranked second on the league's stolen base chart with 90, while also finishing in a tie for seventh in triples with 15.

Logan Vick (Baylor) finished his career ranked seventh on the Big 12 career walks chart with 134.

Texas A&M pitching duo of Ross Stripling and Michael Wacha ranked in the top 10 for wins, strikeouts and innings pitched. Stripling ranks fifth in wins (31), seventh in strikeouts (340) and ninth in innings pitched (348.2). He also finished his career with nine complete games and is one of three pitchers to earn five or more Big 12 Player of the Week honors in their careers. Wacha's 27 career wins is a tie for seventh most in the Big 12, while his 336 strikeouts is ninth best and his 348.2 innings pitched ranks 10th.

Michael Wacha was one of four players to end 2012 in the career ERA top 10. Corey Knebel (Texas) sits third on the list (1.67), while Wacha ranks sixth (2.40), Jordan John (Oklahoma) is fifth (2.41) and Hoby Milner (Texas) sits in sixth (2.44). Knebel and Milner will return in 2013 as juniors. Knebel also sits in a seventh-place tie on the career saves list with 28.

League coaches recorded milestone wins on the season as Ritch Price (Kansas), Tim Jamieson (Missouri), Sunny Golloway (Oklahoma) and Frank Anderson (Oklahoma State) all reached the 300 win mark during the year. Augie Garrido (Texas) coached his 1,000th game for the Longhorns and is four wins shy of 700 victories.

Nine players combined for 24 All-America distinctions, including Andrew Heaney and Josh Ludy who made all four outlets' teams. Heaney collected first-team honors from each, marking the fifth year in a row a Big 12 pitcher has done so. Ludy was a first-team member on Baseball America's list and earned second team honors from ABCA and the NCBWA as well as third-team recognition on the Louisville Slugger team. Tyler Naquin, Ross Stripling and Michael Wacha became two-time All-Americans with multiple recognitions this season in addition to last year. The Big 12 has totaled 358 All-America honorees since 1997.

The Big 12 was one of three conferences with five or more teams ranked in the top 50 nationally in team ERA. Texas A&M (ninth), Oklahoma State (18th), Baylor (19th), Oklahoma (39th) and Texas (49th) recorded ERAs under 3.50. The SEC and West Coast Conference were the other two leagues with five-plus teams in the top 50.

Tyler Naquin (Texas A&M) became the first player in league history to lead the Big 12 in hits and batting average in consecutive seasons. He is the fifth Aggie in the past six years to lead the league in hits and is the only Texas A&M player to lead the league in batting average.

Ross Stripling (Texas A&M) threw the eighth no-hitter in league history and first since 2009 on May 12.

Baylor tied an NCAA record and set a Big 12 record when 10 Bears were hit by pitches in a March 6 contest against TCU. Combined, the two teams set a national record with 13 hit batters during the game. Nathan Orf was plunked three times and finished the 2012 season with the league HBP record (33).

Several Big 12 single-season offensive records were matched this year. Jake Brown (K-State) recorded six hits in a game against Hartford, marking the first time since 2008 a league player tallied six hits. Josh Ludy (Baylor) and Robbie Rea (Oklahoma State) both blasted three home runs in a single contest to tie the league record. Ludy's three-HR game was against Kansas State, while Rea's was against Alabama A&M. Rea also tied the Big 12 record for total bases that day with 16.Tanner Witt (K-State) became the second player to walk six times in a game (Josh Holliday, OSU, 1999) on May 5 against Nebraska-Omaha.

The league will welcome four new head coaches in 2013. With the addition of TCU, Jim Schlossnagle will join Matt Holliday (OSU), Tim Tadlock (TTU) and Randy Mazey (WVU), who were all hired after the 2012 season.

 

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