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Fall Report: Baylor

Fall Report

It didn’t come without plenty of hard work, but Baylor has restored order with coach Steve Rodriguez and Co., leading the charge the past few seasons.

Before Rodriguez’s arrival, the Bears hadn’t reached the NCAA tournament since 2012. And though it wasn’t an overnight fix – the Bears went 24-29 in Rodriguez’s first season – the transition has occurred quicker than expected.

The Bears made a statement in Rodriguez’s second season by going 34-23 with an NCAA tournament appearance, before taking another step forward two seasons ago with a 37-21 overall record. BU put together yet another solid campaign in 2019, too, going 35-19 with a strong Big 12 Conference mark.

Two things are for sure after last season: There’s a renewed sense of confidence around Baylor Ballpark and the Bears have some key cogs to replace from last year’s club to be able to emulate last year’s success.

Putting all those pieces together between now and Opening Day will be the key.

“We have a lot of pitching back from last year’s club – this is a veteran staff for us,” Rodriguez said. “We lost Kyle Hill and a couple of others, but we have some pretty good arms coming back. We also brought in some really good freshmen.

“From an offensive standpoint, I do think we have some really good components in some key areas,” Rodriguez continued. “We have some talented kids in the outfield. There’s no doubt some holes to fill, but we brought in some guys very capable of filling those holes. I’m intrigued to see them get into the lineup this spring and see where things take them from a roles standpoint.”

The most important thing between now and Opening Day is setting the weekend rotation. Jimmy Winston took a huge step forward and is a sure bet to be in the rotation, while veteran Paul Dickens is another solid candidate to be in the mix. There’s a bevy of other candidates in the mix, too, with Tyler Thomas leading the way for the time being.

From an offensive standpoint, the Bears welcome back a great one in shortstop Nick Loftin, while the guys to replace are pretty obvious – Shea Langeliers and Davis Wendzel are impossible to replace right off the bat, while the Bears also have some veterans to replace, including key leader and offensive producer Richard Cunningham.

Though the Bears have some important question marks, they are much like the rest of the Big 12 Conference. TCU, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas and West Virginia all have some questions to answer over the next couple of months, while Texas Tech is the lone exception at the moment.

It’s time to dissect Baylor heading into the spring.

 

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