By Jeffrey Swindoll
A number of issues hit Baylor baseball this season. This debilitated head coach Steve Smith from stopping the recent decline in form for the Bears. Just three years ago, Baylor was on top of the Big 12 baseball world holding up the regular season championship trophy.
The Bears (17-24, 6-12) had the injury bug from the start of the season, losing key players in the batting order, infield, outfield and on the mound. Baylor was hurting in just about every spot on the field. On top of that, the Bears’ roster was already relatively young, even without the injuries. It was a recipe for Baylor to face many hardships this season.
“We’re either too young or not good enough, take your pick,” Smith said after a midweek loss this season.
Optimism would sometimes creep in after the Bears would scrape out a wins in the middle of the week. However, it would all come crashing down over the weekend in conference play. The Bears have not been a threat on the road and dropped some key games at home this season.
Smith called the Bears “real thin” after an 11-0 loss to Houston at home this season in regards to his team’s current lack of depth. Over and over, Baylor’s shortcomings were exposed on the field.
The season has been a constant cycle of teaching the players humility, Smith said. In many ways, Smith knew his team was bound to lead a mediocre season in 2015. He feels its almost inevitable to fail before even having the chance to succeed. Especially in college sports, teams go through cycles. Periods of starkly different ups and downs.
“Nobody’s going to feel sorry for us,” Smith said. “Part of being a good baseball player is more than being able to hit, run, throw – it’s being able to think the game and being able to play the game. The only way it seems to me that you learn is almost by failure, and failure costs you ballgames.”
Senior pitcher Ryan Smith, son of coach Smith, suffered an injury just weeks into his previously expected final season. Ryan will undergo Tommy John surgery and is expected to return next season. His son’s return to the team should bolster the pitching staff’s experience and depth, Smith said.
In addition to Ryan coming back another year, Smith recently announced the signing of San Jacinto College right-handed pitcher Alex Phillips. Phillips will be one of the six total incoming players for the Bears next season, four of which are pitchers.
Baylor signed five Texas high school standouts fall for the 2016 campaign – Collin Garrett from Montgomery High, Kyle Hill from Calallen High, Cody Moos from Medina Valley High, T.J. Raguse from Georgetown High, Jon Skidmore from Highland Park.
The Bears will return as many as 28 players for 2016 after losing only seven seniors.