Practice underway at Ferrell FieldSept. 20, 1996
By Scott Dixon
Lariat Sports Staff
The upcoming season's baseball team is going to look a lot like last year's team except for in the middle of the field.
The biggest loss will be at second base, where the Bears will be playing without All-Southwest Conference player Marty Crawford.
Crawford batted over .400 last year.
Also missing up the middle due to graduation is shortstop Scott Morrison, and the two starting catchers, Shane Davis and Steve Martinez.
'We lost Morrison and Crawford up the middle and both of our catchers, but I think the new guys will be able to fill in nicely in those spots,' head coach Steve Smith said. 'We signed two freshman catchers, but neither one of them has been guaranteed the starting position.'
Baylor has to be excited that Kris Lambert, the Bears ace pitcher last season and also one of the Southwest Conference's best pitchers decided to turn down another offer to play his senior year with the green and gold.
Centerfielder and leadoff hitter John Topolski will also be back after a solid freshman season last year.
'I think that most Big 12 teams are going to take us kind of lightly because our school is so much smaller than everybody else's,' Topolski said. 'But we have a good combination of new and old players that should surprise a lot of teams.'
The Bears are coming off of a season in which they finished fourth in the Southwest Conference and two of the teams that finished ahead of them are moving to the Big 12.
Texas Tech and the University of Texas, the Big 12 teams that finished ahead of Baylor in Southwest Conference play, were both favored to do better last year and both have lost a lot to graduation.
Baylor will be playing traditional baseball powerhouses Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in the Big 12 Southern Division.
'We played well last year against teams that went to the tournament,' Smith said. 'And with our pitching this much improved over last year's, I think that we'll be a team to contend with.'
Jeff Andresen/The Lariat
Although the baseball season is months away, the Baylor baseball team is already at practice for its inaugural season in the Big 12. Though a few key players from last year were lost, Baylor should have no problem contending with traditional Big 8 powers like OU and OSU, as well as all the old SWC rivals.
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