This weekend, the Texas Tech Red Raiders head east to Arlington to take on three of the top SEC squads in the College Baseball Showdown at Globe Life Stadium.
On the ticket for the Red Raiders will be Arkansas, Ole Miss and Mississippi State. These three are picked to finish in the top-three positions in the SEC West according to the SEC pre-season coaches poll. Ole Miss is picked first, with seven votes, Mississippi State second with three votes, and Arkansas third with two first place votes.
Let’s take a look at how Texas Tech matches with these teams and what to expect this weekend.
As we look at the Red Raiders and see what possible lineups could be used this weekend, Tech fans should be very excited at what they see. Tech returns a majority of its 2020 roster; however, it loses star second baseman Brian Klein, RHP John McMillon, and of course RHP Clayton Beeter and RHP Bryce Bonnin to the MLB Draft, with Klein and McMillon signing free agent contracts, respectively. With these guys leaving Lubbock to further their baseball careers (best of luck guys, make Tech proud) this leaves a few open spots in the lineup that need to be filled, and everything will become a lot more transparent after Saturday night. However, this is what a potential lineup could look like for Texas Tech:
- C Braxton Fulford JR
- 1B Cole Stilwell SO
- 2B Kurt Wilson/ Jace Jung JR/FR
- 3B Jace Jung/ Braydon Runion FR/SO
- SS Cal Conley RS FR
- LF Dru Baker/ Dillon Carter SO/FR
- CF Dylan Neuse* JR
- RF Easton Murrell/ Dillon Carter JR/FR
- DH Nate Rombach FR
*Pre-season Big 12 Player of the Year
Look for Parker Kelley, Cody Masters, and Max Marusak to be huge impact players this year as well.
- RHP Micah Dallas SO
- LHP Mason Montgomery SO
- RHP Austin Becker SO
- RHP Brandon Birdsell SO
- RHP Connor Queen SR
No. 8 Arkansas - Saturday 7 PM
We kick off the season Saturday night at 7 against the Razorbacks, and just like the Red Raiders, Arkansas is full of pitching depth with a few first team pre-season all SEC picks. 2B Robert Moore, OF Christian Franklin, DH/UT Matt Goodheart are the names to know on the field and we could possibly see right-handers Zebulon Vermillion and Payton Pallette as they are slated to get two out of the three starts in Arlington. I like either of these matchups for Tech as Pallette is known for throwing over the plate and Vermillion only had experience as a closer last year and wanted a shot at the rotation this season.
No. 6 Ole Miss - Sunday 3 PM
Sunday will be a fun game as Tech will play the Ole Miss Rebels in a game I am excited to watch. Names to look for on the Rebels include C Hayden Dunhurst and 3B Tim Elko who are pre-season all SEC 2nd Team players. Pitchers that Tech could face include LHP Doug Nikhazy, RHP Gunnar Hoglund, or RHP Derek Diamond. The Red Raiders match up well with Ole Miss as they return a lot of guys but not a lot of playing experience, respectively. Buckle up, folks, this will be one to watch.
No. 7 Mississippi State - Monday 11 AM
Ah, we meet again. If you remember, last season was stopped after the Red Raiders dropped a pair of games to the Bulldogs in Biloxi, MS, by scores of 6-3 and 3-2. With the game being played in Biloxi, it was ruled as a neutral site series but being a little over three and a half hours from Starkville, the crowd was 98 percent Bulldog fans and was a de facto home series. Names to watch for the Bulldogs include OF Tanner Allen who receives a SEC first team nod, 1B Josh Hatcher and OF Rowdey Jordan who both got 2nd team nods. The Bulldogs pitching staff has a lot of talented arms and depth, the plan for them for the first weekend appears to be: throw different pitchers for short innings to see what they have and who can fit into what slots. Texas Tech will be looking for some revenge here as this team was the last in-game competition they saw, not counting intra-squad games.
You can watch the entire College Baseball Showdown on FloBaseball ($).
Expect a big showing from this Texas Tech team and get excited! Baseball season is back!
It’s a long season ahead. Be sure to follow @vivathematadors for all your Texas Tech sports updates. You can also follow me at @JackBellSports for in-game analysis during baseball season.