For once, Texas didn't carry the Big 12 torch in Omaha.
The Longhorns won the Big 12 regular season title by eight games over Oklahoma. But UT bowed out of the NCAA postseason against TCU in super regional action. OU, meanwhile, hit the road and upset Virginia to advance to the College World Series for the first time since 1995.
Not getting to Omaha made it somewhat a year to forget for the Longhorns. Getting to Omaha made it a year to remember for the Sooners.
Texas A&M, Baylor and Kansas State earned trips to NCAA regionals while Texas Tech stumbled down the stretch despite showing marked improvements much of the season.
Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma State were disappointments.
KU was expected to compete for a super regional appearance, but ended last season with just a 31-27 overall record. Missouri ended the year with a 29-26 record, while OSU and NU were the biggest disappointments, finishing tenth and ninth in conference, respectively.
It wasn't a great year for the Big 12.
What they accomplished this year: The Bears were expected to finish seventh in the Big 12 entering last season, but exceeded expectations. They finished fifth in league play with a 12-13 record and reached an NCAA regional. BU also compiled a 36-24 overall record. BU didn't have a great season, but it accomplished more than we expected. That qualifies as a successful campaign.
What must improve: BU has a chance to be much improved next season, but a few things must go its way. The Bears could improve in the field after finishing last season with a .968 fielding percentage. They also must find a way to adequately replace key pitchers Willie Kempf, Craig Fritsch and Shawn Tolleson. They're in great shape if they meet those goals. Perhaps last season was a stepping stone for something better.
Draft departures: INF Raynor Campbell, P Craig Fritsch, C Gregg Glime, P Willie Kempf, P Shawn Tolleson
What they accomplished this year: It was the most hyped campaign for the Jayhawks since joining the Big 12. KU was ranked in the Rivals Top 25 to begin the season and some were talking about its chances of getting to Omaha. The Jayhawks didn't come close to reaching that goal. They finished Big 12 play with a 11-15 record and failed to make an NCAA regional after finishing the season with a 31-27. KU must head back to the drawing board.
What must improve: The Jayhawks have much work to do between now and next season. They finished last season with a respectable .304 batting average, but must replace their top three hitters. The pitching staff is the biggest concern. KU finished last season with a 5.47 ERA and must replace a pair of weekend starters in T.J. Walz and Cameron Selik. It also must replace reliever Brett Bochy, who recorded five saves in 12 appearances. KU needs the pitching staff to step up to exceeded expectations in '11.
Draft departures: INF Tony Thompson, INF Robby Price, P Brett Bochy, P Cameron Selik, P Travis Blankenship, OF Brian Heere
What they accomplished this year: K-State coach Brad Hill did one of his best coaching jobs last season. The Wildcats lost several key players from their NCAA regional team two seasons ago. They didn't skip a beat. KSU finished third in the Big 12 with a 14-12 mark and earned another trip to the NCAA postseason. It fell short of a super regional but ended the campaign with a solid 37-22 record. The 'Cats had a productive year.
What must improve: The Wildcats finished last season with a fantastic .323 batting average and should again be fine offensively next season. The pitching staff must improve to take the next step and reach an NCAA super regional. The Wildcats finished last season with an unimpressive 5.57 ERA and didn't have a full-time starting pitcher with an ERA below four. The return of Kyle Hunter and others give the Wildcats some hope for '11. Next season boils down to the pitching staff.
Draft departures: INF Carter Jurica, INF Adam Muenster
What they accomplished this year: The Tigers were expected to finish near the bottom of conference entering last season. That's where they finished, too. MU compiled a 10-16 mark in conference and failed to reach an NCAA regional after ending the campaign with an overall record of 29-26. It certainly was a season to forget for the Tigers, but it wasn't unexpected.
What must improve: MU has several areas that need improvements between now and next season. The Tigers finished last season with just a .288 batting average and 53 homers. They struggled on the mound, too, ending the campaign with a 5.06 ERA. They also must replace ace pitcher Nick Tepesch, who made 15 starts. Additionally, the Tigers must improve in the field after finishing conference ninth in fielding.
Draft departures: C Brett Nicholas, INF Aaron Senne, P Nick Tepesch, INF Michael Liberto, P Tyler Clark
What they accomplished this year: What they didn't accomplish is the better question. The Huskers were expected to finish near the bottom of the Big 12. That's where they ended last season. Nebraska compiled a dismal 10-17 Big 12 mark and again failed to reach an NCAA regional after compiling a .500 overall record. The Huskers desperately need something to go their way next season.
What must improve: The Huskers weren't necessarily horrible last season, but they were unable to establish consistency. That must change next season. NU ended '10 with a .301 batting average and must replace leading hitter Adam Bailey. The Huskers left something to be desired on the mound by tallying an unimpressive 5.15 ERA. The offense likely will be fine next season, but the pitching staff leaves something to be desired.
Draft departures: P Michael Mariot, P Ryan Hughes, P Mike Nesseth, OF Adam Bailey
What they accomplished this year: The Sooners couldn't have had a much better campaign. They were expected to finish fourth in the Big 12 entering last season. But they accomplished much more. OU finished second in conference with a 15-10 record and won the Norman Regional before shocking Virginia in the Charlottesville Super Regional to reach the CWS. OU fell short of winning a national title but had an amazing year.
What must improve: The Sooners established consistency last season and finished the year with a .307 batting average, 3.76 ERA and a solid .976 fielding percentage. OU welcomes back several key hitters and returns weekend starters Michael Rocha and Bobby Shore. OU again should compete for a spot in Omaha barring a surprise. It has no glaring weaknesses.
Draft departures: INF Danny Black, P Zach Neal, P Jeremy Erben, P Jason Chowning
What they accomplished this year: The Cowboys were expected to finish in the middle of the Big 12 and compete for an NCAA postseason appearance. They did neither. The Pokes finished dead last in conference with a dismal 8-19 mark and failed to make an NCAA regional after finishing the campaign with a 29-26 overall record. The Pokes had a year they'd like to forget sooner rather than later.
What must improve: Pitching is the biggest key for OSU between now and next season. It finished last season with a respectable .307 batting average and solid .978 fielding percentage. However, the Cowboys had an unimpressive 5.56 ERA and must improve without Tyler Lyons and Thomas Keeling part of the staff. OSU will improve if the pitching staff rises to the occasion.
Draft departures: P Tyler Lyons, P Thomas Keeling, INF Kevin David, OF Dusty Harvard, INF Tom Belza
What they accomplished this year: The Longhorns entered last season as the favorite to win the Big 12. They didn't disappoint. UT had a great regular season and finished conference play with a 24-3 mark – eight games ahead of second place Oklahoma. UT won the Austin Regional before bowing out of the postseason against TCU in the Austin Super Regional. It finished the season with a fantastic 50-13 overall record.
What must improve: The 'Horns will return enough pitchers next season to have one of the nation's better staffs, and their defense again is expected to be solid. The offense, though, needs to improve. The Longhorns finished last season with a respectable 81 homers, but only hit .286 and returns just two hitters that batted over .300. UT will be incredibly difficult to beat if the offense rises to the occasion as expected.
Draft departures: P Chance Ruffin, P Brandon Workman, C Cameron Rupp, OF Kevin Keyes, OF Connor Rowe, DH Russell Moldenhauer
What they accomplished this year: The Aggies were expected to finish near the top of the Big 12 and did, ending last season in third with a 15-12 league mark. They also won the Big 12 tournament before bowing out of the NCAA postseason with a Coral Gable Regional title game setback to host Miami. The Aggies fell short of reaching their ultimate goal of Omaha, but hope for better luck next season.
What must improve: The Aggies should be solid at the plate next season. They also have a solid crop of pitchers leading the way in John Stilson and Michael Wacha. However, there's no question the Aggies must have develop more quality depth in '11. They had several elite arms last season, but had issues when their bullpen was pushed to the limit. Additionally, the Aggies must improve in the field, too. They ended '11 with a .964 fielding percentage.
Draft departures: OF Brodie Greene
What they accomplished this year: It was a disappointing finish to what appeared to be a turnaround season for the Red Raiders. Tech was in good shape to make an NCAA regional down the stretch, but a road series loss to Nebraska essentially spelled doom. Tech didn't reach the postseason, but finished Big 12 play with a 13-14 record. It also had a 28-29 overall record. Tech coach Dan Spencer will get big things done. This just wasn't his year.
What must improve: The Red Raiders know what needs to change next season to be more competitive and make the postseason: pitching and defense must improve. They finished last season with a dismal 6.68 ERA and must replace their top two arms in Chad Bettis and Bobby Doran. The pitching staff must be exponentially better next season. Defense is another area of concern entering fall workouts. Tech finished last season with a .967 fielding percentage.
Draft departures: P Chad Bettis, P Bobby Doran, C Jeremy Mayo, P Brett Bruening