Hi Sooner fans, I hope you don't mind a visit from a Jayhawk. I've been writing about the KU baseball team for three years. Below is a preview I posted at Rock Chalk Talk for the Kansas @ Oklahoma baseball series this weekend. I'll be posted recaps and updates over the weekend at RCT and there probably will be some banter at Big-12 Hardball as well. I'd be very interested in any feedback from OU fans who go to see the games - what your impressions are of the Jayhawks, events in the game not covered in official recaps, etc. College baseball is a hard sport to follow as fans only get to see 15 or 20 teams play each year, which makes it hard to judge were your favorite team stands in comparison to the larger scene. - JQ
Kansas will travel to Norman this weekend to face a very good Oklahoma team. The Sooners sit in second place in the Big-12, trailing Texas A&M by only one-half a game. OU is ranked #9 by Baseball America, #17 in the RPI and #6 in the ISR so pretty well everyone agrees they are one of the best teams in the nation.
Friday 6:30PM: Shaeffer Hall (3-4, 3.82 ERA) vs. Andrew Doyle (6-3, 3.76 ERA)
Saturday 2PM: T.J. Walz (5-1, 3.49) vs. Garrett Richards (6-1, 6.70)
Sunday 1PM: Lee Ridenhour (4-2, 3.29) vs.
KLWN will broadcast all three games live. These can be heard at AM 1320 or via the station’s webcast. OU will provide a free video webcast of Friday’s game. Link here.
Quick Preview of OU
The Sooners hit the hell out of the ball. OU average of 8.8 runs a game leads the Big-12 and is 1.5 runs a game greater than KU’s average output. The Sooner offense does not have weak points. They get on base amazingly often (.417 team OBP), they hit for power (.561 team Slugging %, league leading 77 homeruns) and they have good team speed (53 out of 76 in stolen bases). OU’s pitching and defense is actually quite good. The Sooners give up 5.2 runs a game, about 1.5 runs a game better than the NCAA average. KU does hold a slight edge here - the Hawks give up 4.9 runs on average. As I looked for hopeful trends I did find at least one. The OU starting pitching, while at times very good, is inconsistent. Their ace, Doyle, gave up five runs each in three of his six conference starts. Junior Garrett Richards will get the Saturday start but he has been in and out of the weekend rotation this season. Of his two Big-12 starts he was rocked at Texas and okay at Baylor. He is capable of either keeping his team in the game, or putting them in a quick hole. The Sunday starter hasn’t been named yet but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Stephen Porlier get the call. Porlier missed all of last year due to injury but seems to have worked his way back. He has a 3.86 ERA in 18.2 innings of work so far. On Tuesday he got the start at Arkansas and went 6 innings, giving up 4 runs. Complete OU stats found here.
What is at stake for KU?
As an NCAA bubble team KU needs to keep winning tough games to stay in the hunt. The Hawks open a grueling eight game road trip tonight, three at OU, three at MU and single games at KSU and Wichita State. Kansas finishes the season with two home games against Kansas State. I think if the Jayhawks go 6-4 in these final games they will hold their status. This will not be easy. Kansas will need to win at least one game at OU, two would make them golden. Oklahoma is 19-2 at home, KU is 5-9 on the road.