By Ben Everett | Sports Writer
Baylor baseball looks to move up in the Big 12 conference standings this weekend as they face Kansas in a weekend series in Lawrence, Kan.
The Bears (25-16, 6-9) are coming off of a hard-fought series against TCU in which they blew out the Horned Frogs in the second game but failed to pick up another win.
Baylor senior first baseman Aaron Dodson says getting a win in Fort Worth was nice despite not winning the series.
“It was nice coming out of TCU with one,” Dodson said. “Two obviously would have been nice, but good teams find a way to win, and they’re a good team.”
Having won five of their last eight games, the Bears are getting momentum back on their side, especially on the offensive side.
Baylor head coach Steve Rodriguez says there is positive energy now that guys are swinging the bat well.
“It’s really fun when you have guys who are getting hot at the right time,” Rodriguez said. “Guys have been swinging the bat really well. You can just feel it on our team. There’s something positive going on. It’s exciting to see, and hopefully we can carry it through this weekend.”
The Jayhawks (21-20, 8-7) just picked up a series win over then-No. 19 Oklahoma to move to fourth in the conference standings.
Kansas is one of the youngest teams in the Big 12. The Jayhawks freshman class has the highest start percentage in the conference.
Junior Matt McLaughlin leads Kansas on offense with two homeruns while accumulating 21 runs batted in. Freshmen James Cosentino and Brett Vosik also contribute with 30 combined RBIs and home runs each.
Rodriguez says that the Jayhawks are not flashy, but they play well together and are tough at home.
“They’re playing really well as a team,” Rodriguez said. “Nothing really stands out as phenomenal, but you can just tell they play well together. If you don’t go in there prepared, they’re going to get you.”
Kansas relief pitcher Stephen Villines was recently named to the NCBWA Midseason Stopper of the Year watch list for the best closer in the nation. Villines leads the Big 12 with 11 saves on the season.
The Bears have a nationally recognized player as well in junior Troy Montemayor who boasts a team-leading 1.71 earned run average while recording eight saves so far this year.
As for starting pitching, Baylor will send out the usual weekend rotation of junior Montana Parsons, senior Nick Lewis and freshman Cody Bradford. Parsons holds the best ERA of the three at 3.03 while having a 3-2 record on the season.
On offense, Dodson leads the team with a .531 slugging percentage, six home runs and 25 RBIs. Additionally, freshman catcher Shea Langeliers currently also has six home runs and 25 RBIs.
The Bears and Jayhawks face off at 6 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday in Lawrence, Kan.