By Max Calderone | Sports Writer
For a team that won 15 of its first 17 games last season to go 31 games before picking up its 15th win of the 2018 season, it’s clear to see things haven’t gone necessarily to plan for the Baylor baseball team.
However, the Bears (15-16, 3-9) are looking to reset this weekend on the road with a three-game series against Memphis (11-23).
Sophomore catcher Shea Langeliers said his team is entering the upcoming matchup with a clear mindset and readiness to refocus.
“For us, it’s the second half of the season. We’re starting over,” Langeliers said. “We’re trying to get back to the mentality of being aggressive and getting out there playing to win, not playing not to lose.”
The Bears were able to pull off a 12-inning victory over Sam Houston State Tuesday night and will now end their season-long seven-game road trip this weekend in Tennessee.
Langeliers said the 4-2 win over the Bearkats was greatly beneficial to his team, which had been struggling, but now gets to dial in with a break from Big 12 conference play.
“Having an extra-inning game like that, having it be a close game and then coming out on top, it’s a huge momentum booster for the team,” Langeliers said. “Everybody’s mind is going to be in the right place after a win like that and obviously it brings the team closer together.”
After being swept on the road at Texas last weekend, Baylor is in search of its first series win away from home this season. Head coach Steve Rodriguez said the key to the series will be to keep things simple and play good baseball.
“For us, it’s just a matter of playing great baseball. It’s making sure that we continue to pitch well, start coming through offensively and then just making sure we play great defense,” Rodriguez said.
The Bears will send sophomore right-handed pitcher Hayden Kettler (3-3, 3.21) to the mound for game one on Friday night, with sophomore lefty Cody Bradford (3-3, 2.76) set to follow in game two on Saturday.
Sophomore third baseman Davis Wendzel, who hit his third home run of the season last weekend at Texas, will look to spark the offense that is still looking to settle into a rhythm. As the team hovers below a collective .250 batting average, Wendzel said he thinks most of the guys are trying too hard and not staying simple with their approach.
“I think everyone is just pressing, trying to do a little too much or get out of their comfort zone,” Wendzel said. “I think we’re starting to reset and realize if we all just do a little bit we’ll be fine.”
Rodriguez said he is comfortable with where the team is at and has really been impressed by the group’s effort. He is confident in the team’s ability and is looking forward to seeing them take on Memphis this weekend.
“We’re in a good place right now. We get a non-conference weekend to try and get some things ironed out,” Rodriguez said. “For the most part, these kids are excited right now. I think the personality of this team is really starting to develop.”
As the Bears get set to travel east, they’ll bring with them some good news, as Langeliers was the first player selected to the 2018 USA National Baseball Collegiate Team. He will be coached by LSU’s Paul Mainieri, who called Rodriguez to break the news.
“It is one of the greatest experiences that he will ever have,” Rodriguez said. “When I talked to Shea about it, you could just see his eyes light up. It’s a very special thing and a very elite group that he’s going to be a part of.”
Baylor and Memphis will begin the three-game series at 6:30 p.m. Friday night, followed by game two at 2 p.m. Saturday and the finale set for 1 p.m. on Sunday.