Baseball Tigers head to Big 12 tournament

Tuesday, May 20, 2008 | 10:36 p.m. CDT; updated 11:13 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

After playing the the Big 12 Conference tournament last year as a freshman, Missouri leftfielder Aaron Senne has just one thing to say to this season’s newcomers.

“Just wait. You’re going to like it. You’re going to love it.”

Today, the wait is over for Senne and the rest of the Missouri baseball team as the begin play in the tournament against Texas at 9 a.m. at the AT&T Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City.

Senne, who was named to the first team All-Big 12 on Tuesday, said the tournament atmosphere was unique.

“It’s so much fun down there. The whole area, Bricktown and the ball park and everything, it’s just a blast,” he said. “(I’m) looking forward to it a lot. I know next year these freshmen that haven’t experienced it yet will be in the same boat and they’ll be looking forward to it, too, but all the guys that are returning we always talk about it. We just love going down to Oklahoma City for the tournament.”

The Tigers, who are coming off an impressive sweep of then-No. 5 Nebraska, are the tournament’s fourth seed meaning they will play fifth-seed Texas, eighth-seed Oklahoma and top seed Texas A&M in pool play with the team compiling the best record advancing to Sunday’s championship game.

Missouri was swept by No. 13 Texas A&M on the road this season but took two of three games at home against No. 24 Texas and away against Oklahoma.

After pounding out 44 hits and scoring 37 runs in three games against the Cornhuskers, hitter after hitter contributed the offensive outburst to renewed confidence.

“It showed this weekend,” said first baseman Steve Gray. “Everyone is capable of being a very good offensive player, and at this point of the year we’re all starting to get comfortable and we’re all swinging it real well, so it’s definitely nice to have especially with our pitching staff.”

The pitching staff, considered one of the best in the country entering the season, finished the season with just the fifth-best ERA in the ten-team conference, but also finished the season strong.

“It just takes a little bit of weight off the hitter’s backs,” said Senne about the importance of getting consistently good pitching in the postseason. “We’re still going to go up there and try and do as much as we can but if it’s one of those days where we’re not getting anything to fall or we’re facing a tough pitcher, it kind of relieves us a little bit and picks us up.”

MU coach Tim Jamieson said that a trip to the championship game could mean more than a chance to win the school’s first Big 12 tournament Title. Jamieson believes a trip to the champsionship game is essential to his team’s chances of hosting and NCAA Regional tournament for the second consecutive season, although it is possible that the team could be selected anyway after re-entering the top ten of Baseball America’s poll this week.

“I’m not going to worry about it.” Jamieson said. “I like how we’re playing, and, like we talked about earlier, if we’re playing well I don’t care where we are. I’d love to be here (in Columbia), but the key is to be playing well wherever you are.”

CROW GETS CONFERENCE HONOR: Missouri’s Aaron Crow (12-0) was named Big 12 Pitcher of the Year on Tuesday. The junior was also named to the All-Big 12 First Team with teammates Jacob Priday and Aaron Senne. Sophomore catcher Trevor Coleman was named to the second team while Greg Folgia, Kyle Gibson and Ryan Lollis were all honorable mentions.

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