Baylor baseball opens 2019 with highest preseason ranking in a decade
When head coach Steve Rodriguez fills out the lineup card for the 2019 Baylor Baseball season opener, he’ll have plenty of familiar faces to choose from. The cyclical nature of college sports doesn’t allow this very often, but the Bears are returning the entire batting order and starting pitching rotation from a 2018 team that claimed the program’s first Big 12 tournament championship.
The college baseball world has taken notice of Baylor’s ascension since “Coach Rod” came to Baylor from Pepperdine in 2015. The Bears took a step forward in each of his first three years at the helm, culminating last year with the thrilling extra-inning victory over TCU to claim the Big 12 Championship in Oklahoma City, as well as the Bears’ first NCAA Tournament win since 2012.
The Bears enter the season as a consensus top-20 pick, ranked as high as No. 12 in the nation by Perfect Game — the Bears’ best preseason ranking since 2009 — and weighing in at No. 16 in the nation according to Baseball America and the National College Baseball Writers Association. Conference coaches picked the Bears to finish second in the Big 12 preseason poll, the program’s best since 2004, behind only 2018 College World Series participant Texas Tech.
At the plate and on the mound, the Bears return a decorated core of players. Junior catcher Shea Langeliers and junior pitcher Cody Bradford were both named to the Golden Spikes Award watch list, making them the first pair of Baylor teammates ever selected for the watch list for college baseball’s Heisman. Bradford, last year’s Big 12 Pitcher of the Year, was picked to repeat in 2019 and was named to the preseason all-conference team along with Langeliers, junior third baseman Davis Wendzel and sophomore shortstop Nick Loftin.
The Bears open up at home with a four game series against Holy Cross beginning Friday night at Baylor Ballpark, and will be tested with a schedule that includes Texas A&M, Rice and Texas State at Minute Maid Park in Houston, a three-game series at Nebraska, and non-conference home games against Cornell, Dallas Baptist, Cal Poly and more before Big 12 play begins in March.
Sic ’em, Bears!