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Chalk Talk: Previewing Baylor with Our Daily Bears

PodKATT: Baylor’s pitching staff seems to have had a rough start to the year, with a staff ERA of 5.29 and only 2 pitchers under 4.00. Is this team at a point right now where you know who your 3 weekend starters are or are arms still being tested for those roles?  Who do you think we’re likely to see on Saturday and who are some names on the staff LSU fans should watch out for?

KimboSmash: Coach Smith has kept the guys really up in the air about who's starting this season, which has forced the guys to be more competitive to earn that role as a starter.  Pitching-wise, I think we have a pretty good idea who our weekend guys are going to be, but with Ryan Smith getting Tommy John next week and Brad Kuntz still out recovering from a Tommy John last year, the pitching staff is looking a little piecemeal.  That said, I think our weekend guys include Drew Tolson, Troy Montemayor, and possibly Theron Kay or Nick Lewis.  Smith's injury throws a lot of things up in the air, but we'll see how things play out this weekend.

As far as guys to watch out for, Logan Brown, Adam Toth and Aaron Dodson have been hitting pretty well thus far this season.  Troy Montemayor is usually pretty solid on the mound, and Sean Spicer has been doing a pretty good job at closer.

PK: Baylor’s start has been up and down, but I don’t think anyone can say anything negative about how tough their OOC has been so far (Home series wins vs Cal Poly and Kent St, road sweep loss at CS Fullerton and a midweek loss to Dallas Baptist) Do you like your team playing a schedule so tough?

KS: I like it.  I think it's a good growth experience for the team, and a much better representation of what the team is capable. That said, playing hard OOC requires a lot of tenacity, both physically and mentally, but I think it's really beneficial in the long run.

PK: With 301 teams in college baseball, it’s hard to pay close attention outside of your own conference. What kind of offensive team is Baylor and how does Aaron Dodson (.429, 12 hits in 7 games played) and Adam Toth (led team with a .296 BA last season) fit into those plans?

KS: Honestly, I think that we're pretty inconsistent.  There are some nights when bats are flying and runs are being scored left and right and things all line up, on both sides of the ball.  And when that happens, we're a good offensive team.  But when several things aren't lining up the way they need to, the ability to score goes way down.  Batting is definitely influenced by the way the rest of the game is being played.  Several times in the Cal State Fullerton series last week, guys were able to get on base, but their successors weren't able to finish the job and bring them home to capitalize.  I think that's the biggest problem at this point in the season.  However, you don't know quite which version of the team has shown up until after the first.

Beyond Toth and Dodson, I think most of our guys (Darryn Sheppard, Logan Brown, Cameron Miller, Steven McLean, Justin Arrington) have shown great propensity during their at bats.  Again, it just comes down to how the team as a whole is that evening: if they're consistent and have plenty of cohesion, it's going to be a good ballgame.  If they're inconsistent or a little out of whack, it has the potential to be a trainwreck.  But hey, that's baseball--you have ups and downs, and the important part is what you do with those ups and downs.

PK: Bottom 9, Two out, down 1, 1 on. Who do you want to come to the plate for Baylor?

KS: Adam Toth or Aaron Dodson.  Toth already has won a game with a walk-off while pinch-hitting, and Dodson has proven to be a good hitter thus far this season, though it's early yet.

PK: Baylor baseball is a program that I think many would say is at or right near the top level of college baseball, though recently it has had back-to-back losing seasons. What do you think of the state of the program and is there any kind of "hot seat" talk for longtime coach Steve Smith?

KS: Of course there's "hot seat" talk for Coach Smith (people are still calling for Scott Drew's job and he's had a really amazing season...haters gonna hate, amirite).  It's really hard to be good year-after-year.  I still think we're a good program and the past couple seasons have been characterized by growth and player development.  Based on what I've seen, I'm excited to see what this team achieves this season and don't think Coach Smith should be in the "hot seat," per se.