Big 12 baseball: Baylor's Steve Smith is Oklahoman's Coach of the Year
The No. 1 thing that helped Smith and this Baylor team was experiencing heartache in last spring's regional.
Baylor coach Steve Smith acknowledges the clichĂ©, yet even at the risk of betraying his typically engaging and entertaining chatter, goes all one-game-at-a-time in explaining his team's runaway romp to the Big 12 regular season title.
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And with reason.
â€śAnd I'm going to tell you when that started,â€ť said Smith, The Oklahoman's Big 12 Coach of the Year, â€śit was last year when Cal walked off the field at Rice.â€ť
As in walk-off win for Cal; walkaway loss for Baylor. One strike away from a regional championship last June at Rice, Baylor lost 9-8 when Cal got a two-run single in a four-run bottom of the ninth.
â€śWhen we lost the three-run lead in the ninth inning of a championship game in a regional,â€ť Smith said, â€śthe value of one pitch at a time was never made more clear.â€ť
So Smith and his Bears have ridden that sour memory, grinding out wins â€” sweeping weekend after weekend in the Big 12 for a while â€” throughout this season.
Their 18-0 start to league play was the best in the Big 12's 16-year history. And their 24-game overall winning streak set a school record.
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