Right now, we’re mired in a winter-like spring. Soon, we’ll be melting in blazing hot summer temps.
I’d like you to forget all that.
Instead, close your eyes and envision yourself outside during the best season of all, fall. (I know I said close your eyes, but reading is hard with your eyes closed. So just keep them open and use your imagination.) You are outside. You’re wearing jeans without sweat dripping off your backside. You’re wearing a shirt and no jacket without shivering. The air is crisp, but not too cold. The leaves have changed colors, giving mother nature a much needed makeover from the end of summer. Uh oh, you notice the leaves starting to pile up in your yard. There’s no need to worry, though. You know that you have Texas Tech baseball on speed dial....because those boys can RAKE.
Thank you for indulging me on that trip, all of my pun-loving friends. But, on a serious note, I feel sorry for those who haven’t been paying attention to Tech baseball this season. They’ve missed out on some serious fireworks. The Red Raiders have plated double digit runs in over a third of their games (12 of 33). They have scored 266 runs, fifth-best in nation. For those not so good with the arithmetic, that’s a whopping 8+ runs per game.
The boys are hitting their share of dingers—41 to be exact, ranked 12th in all of NCAA baseball. Doubles and triples? Those, too. Tech ranks in the top-16 in the country for both. That’s the new school, big swing ball, but the Red Raiders hit for average, too. Their team .305 mark again puts them among the elite hitting teams in baseball. It’s simply a good hitting ball club.
Racking up the hits is more than fine and dandy, but having men on base while doing so is how you generate high scoring tallies. That’s exactly what Tech has done this season. In addition to hitting the ball well, Coach Tim Tadlock’s crew has had a keen eye at the plate. So keen, they’ve totaled 199 walks. If you’re thinking that’s a large number, then you’re right. It’s top three in the NCAA. Add that to the ability to hit the ball, and you end up with a ridiculous team on-base percentage of .431. That is good enough for tops in the conference and second in all of college baseball.
The logical consequences of such a high OBP are simple: more runners on base=more runners in scoring position=more runs.
The benefits of plate discipline go beyond that of driving up your walk numbers. It allows hitters to get ahead of a pitcher which in turn forces the pitcher to throw better pitches to hit. It drives up the pitch counts of the opponents. Getting to a bullpen early in a series means that you will wear down the bullpen faster which only increases your chances of scoring even more runs.
If you have a youngster who is interested in baseball, I highly suggest taking them to watch the Red Raiders play if your schedule so allows. They provide a great example of good hitting and how to approach the game from the plate. The next opportunity to see them in action is tonight as Tech visits Dallas Baptist. First pitch is slated for 6:30 pm at Horner Ballpark.
Oh, and remember your Red Raiders when the leaves start to fall next autumn. I hear their raking service is second to none.