Every season, after every opening weekend, there are three kinds of reactions from college baseball fan bases across the country:
1. Well, we're a good team and we showed it.
2. Uh, oh. It's going to be a long season.
3. Hey, we may actually be better than most predicitions.
Red Raider fans have had plenty of Nos. 1 and 2. But for the first time in maybe a decade, legitimately, Tech fans might be able to confidently and loudly proclaim No. 3.
After the Red Raiders dismantled No. 3 Indiana in three of four games over the weekend -- and honestly were a first-inning, first-game sac fly from maybe coming away from a sweep, this could be the year Tech finally makes a push into the NCAA tournament.
Of course, everyone should probably put the brakes on talking about the NCAA tournament or being ranked or winning the Big 12 after one weekend. After all, there's 52 games to go, 24 of those in Big 12 play when it really counts.
But opening weekend was good for the Red Raiders (3-1) from a variety of standpoints.
The offense, outside of Friday, was outstanding in terms of execution and taking advantage of what the Hoosiers pitchers were giving them. Tech finished the weekend hitting .289, and that's with last year's leading hitter, Jake Barrios, going just 1-for-15. We also saw why head coach Tim Tadlock was so high on a lot of the newcomers.
The pitching was phenomenal, absolutely phenomenal. What more can you say about allowing five earned runs in 36 innings. Yes, just five. That's a 1.25 ERA after four games against a team with three preseason All-Americans in their starting lineup, including one who turned down Top 10-round money to return to school. Only one starter, LHP Chris Sadberry, allowed more than one earned run, and the bullpen allowed just one earned run in 18 innings
But what caught my eye was not anything at the plate or on the mound, per se.
I commented to someone last week that the one thing I think has been missing since Tech last made the NCAA tournament in 2004 has been attititude, nay even a bit of arrogance. Those teams had attitude, that they were going to go out and kick your tail, and win or lose, let you kow about it, then come back the next day with the same attitude, and the next day, and the next ...
We've heard all preseason how confident this team is. But we hear that from every team, every season, before it starts.
LHP Cameron Smith, who tossed 6 innings of shutout relief on Sunday, may have said it best.
"I believe, myself, and those 34 other people in the lockerroom, and even the coaches, that this whole weekend was a huge statement for us, and to our fans and the country," Smith said.
I know this, that after Sunday, some "national" media members suddenly stood up and noticed on social media.
Now comes the hard part -- repeating that performance next weekend against Oral Roberts and BYU, doing the same thing, getting the same effort and production and bringing that same attitude against teams that don't have a ranking next to their name, which sometimes can be more difficult.
Regardless of what happens from here on out, though, if the attitude can remain consistent the whole season, this team ought to be fun to watch.
Until next weekend,
See ya at the yard, meat.