New Mexico Plays An Interesting OOC Schedule in 2017
I'm getting to the point of repeating myself and I hate to do that. That means I've written some of these programs on previous posts so I've just cut and pasted. Maybe you won't notice. With that aside, I'll have to say Coach Birmingham has put together a damned interesting schedule. We've talked and I enjoy our conversations. I wish him luck except against my boys in blue. Read on.
I defy you to name the mascot and the conference. Give up? Bearcats and America East. That's alright, I couldn't do it either. I love starting a season against an unknown program. They were a decent 30-25 which gets you nothing but winning the conference tournament gets you into a regional which is just what they did. They were two and out at the College Station, Texas Regional. They could hit (.292) but pitching was a weak point (tournament play will expose that) at 5.08. Still, I like the match up. Thumbs up.
2/24 - 26 at Dallas Baptist
Here's a program that was pretty good the last few years and is getting stronger. They were a very good 44-16 in 2016 and made it to the Lubbock, Texas Regional where they made it to the final against the host team (surprise!) and lost 5-3. They were 3-2 in the regional which is good but the two losses will be remembered. They played the Lobos in two of the games and split so it looks like they'll try and take their aggressions out on each other again. Yeah, they're good. Thumbs up.
3/7 at New Mexico State (also 3/28 and 5/2)
A natural rival and a team on the rise. A new coach took over this program two years ago and went 11-38 his first year and 34-23 last season. Quite an improvement wouldn't you say? I remember seeing his first recruiting class and it was heavy in juco transfers. Quick fix and he needed it. He also had a pretty good recruiting class for last season. Where all this will be for this year is anyone's guess but I suspect Coach Green will continue the upward trajectory. The team can hit and the Aggies have most always been able to do that. The pitching is the big surprise. In the past the Aggies simply tried to outscore you as the pitching always gave up a lot of runs. Last year the team ERA was 4.61 which doesn't sound that good but was the second best in program history. This should be a good three games. Thumbs up.
3/14 - 3/15 at Oklahoma State
Ooh, more Aggies. Actually Cowboys. Were they called Aggies back in the day when they were Oklahoma A&M? Whatever, let's move on. It wasn't that long ago when the Cowboys were one of the most feared programs in college ball. How were they last year? Still pretty good at 43-22. They made it into the Clemson Regional where they went 3-0. They also won the super regional and advanced to the CWS. They were eliminated by Arizona so I'd call the season a resounding success. Thumbs up.
3/18 - 3/19 at Fullerton
One of the powers in the Big West and the west in general, the Titans are always a threat to win the big show. Hasn't happened in awhile but they are the pride of the mid-major. Hmm, maybe Coastal Carolina can carry that flag now. You DO know that this only happens in baseball, right? Mid major? National Champion? Priceless. Anyway, they were 36-23 overall and 17-7 in conference. That's the way to do it, save your best for in-conference games. They hit a poor (for them) .262 but the pitching was top notch at 2.22. This was all good enough to get them in a regional where they went 1-2. Seems to me they always get in. Thumbs up.
3/21 - 3/22 Grand Canyon
Weird program. A member of the WAC coming up on three years (I think). Before that they were a DII powerhouse. I wrote about this team back then and figured they would struggle in the WAC. Boy, was I wrong. They won it all their first season as a D1 team in the WAC. Sorry, no tournament for you as rules say two years (I think) before you can play in the NCAA Tournament. Last year I had them pegged to do much better and, boy, was I wrong; 25-28. See how smart I am? Hitting was decent at .288 and pitching was ok at 4.73. That should have given them a better record than what they had. Go figure. I still like 'em. Thumbs up.
4/5 at San Diego
They are always good. What happened in last year’s 27-29 team is a puzzle and I believe it’s just a bump in the road and they will return this season as a strong contender in the WCC. Always rates a thumbs up.
4/11 at Texas Tech (also 4/25 - 4/26)
A perennial power in the Big 12 the Red Raiders were again a good team in 2016. They were 47-20 overall and made it all the way to the promised land; the CWS. They won 1 of three and were eliminated when they lost to eventual champion Coastal Carolina, 7-5. No shame in that but I'm sure the players were not pleased as they were sent packing. Anyway, a definite thumbs up.
4/13 - 4/15 Missouri State
Another weird year for a good program. They were a good 38-12 overall and last in the MVC. Dallas Baptist (above) was the champion by 2.5 games. Anyway, what the heck happened? First off, it’s a tough baseball conference. They do like their baseball back there and I’ve attended games at Wichita State. What a beautiful place they play in. Anyway, they had a ten game losing streak in conference games at one point and that spells doom for most teams. They hit well (.299) with lots of power and the pitching was ok which added up to their overall good record. I think power (two guys with 20+ home runs) helped them the most. Why so poorly in conference is still a bit of a mystery. I’m wondering if a weak OOC schedule gave them a false sense of superiority. Maybe. I still have to give the Bears a thumbs up.
4/18 - 4/19 at Kansas State
The Wildcats helped hold up the Big 12 on their shoulders as they were 26-31 overall and 8-16 in conference ahead of only Kansas. They could hit, as .284 shows, but the pitching didn’t hold up at 5.06 and gave up 12 more home runs than the guys in purple could hit. Not good. It wasn’t so long ago (2013) when they were a powerhouse but not so much lately. Thumbs sideways.
The Lobos play some good teams and no real cupcakes. Texas Tech, San Diego, Grand Canyon, Fullerton, Okie State, and Dallas Baptist should all test the Lobos. Oh, and NMSU should be a good three games. Another strong schedule for the MWC.