With only nine games left in its Big 12 Conference schedule and 3 1/2 games separating it from first-place Texas, the Missouri baseball team has plenty of motivation entering its three-game series against the No. 5 Longhorns tonight in Austin.
Missouri is alone in second place in the Big 12 after completing a three-game sweep of Texas Tech last weekend at Taylor Stadium. Missouri coach Tim Jamieson said the Tigers are excited to play the Longhorns.
“We have a chance to compete against the best team in our conference,” he said. “It’s going to be a tremendous environment. There’s going to be a lot of people who remember last year when we swept them (in Columbia).”
The No. 21 Tigers (31-12, 12-6) have won five of their six three-game conference series this season, while Texas (37-12, 17-4) has won all seven of its Big 12 series, including sweeps of Baylor, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State.
Even a sweep of Texas would not give the Tigers the conference lead, but Jamieson said a strong showing in Austin could put Missouri in good position to overtake the Longhorns for the Tigers’ first Big 12 title.
“There’s still a chance,” he said. “If you look at it, Texas only has six (conference) games left, and we have nine. We have six (conference) losses, but we have more games to play. It’s going to be a heck of a challenge, but at least we get to play them instead of relying on somebody else to beat them.”
The Tigers traveled to Austin on Thursday, a day after having their game against Missouri State rained out.
Weather has prevented Missouri from playing four of its past five mid-week games. Designated hitter Jacob Priday said that missing nonconference games in the middle of the week takes away an opportunity to try new things both offensively and defensively.
“I usually get to play outfield sometimes in mid-week games,” he said after the Tigers held practice indoors during the time they had expected to face Missouri State. “It’s nice to play a game in the middle of the week so you don’t go a full week without seeing a pitch, and that’s probably the biggest thing that we’re missing out on.”
Priday has played well recently after struggling at the start of the season when his batting average dropped as low as .190. His .329 conference batting average is the team’s second best, and last week he was named co-Big 12 Player of the Week after Missouri’s sweep of the Red Raiders in which he went 6-for-11 at the plate including three home runs and nine RBIs.
Priday said that he tries to leave every at bat, whether good or bad, behind him so that he can focus on his next challenge.
“It’s nice to be recognized, but I don’t really think about it,” he said. “We did well last weekend, but you can’t look for honors. Right now we’re all focused on Texas.”