The Oklahoma Sooners are down to their final Big XII series of the 2012 season and after last weekend's loss in the Bedlam Series their backs are firmly against the wall when it comes to the NCAA Tournament. We're looking at a team that has an RPI ranking of 69 and absolutely must pick up some wins. The problem is, the team they're hosting this weekend is 18-0 in conference.
After going 31-28 last season and finishing fifth in the conference I don't think anyone expected them to produce like they have this year, despite the fact that they are returning 20 players from that squad. At 39-8 the Bears have the best record in college baseball and at one point they rattled off 24 consecutive wins.
With Josh Ludy's team high .362 average the Bears lead the Big XII in team batting average at .313. They have eight players on their roster hitting .300 or better. Ludy also has a team high seven home runs and 51 RBI, which is also the most in the Big XII.
Oklahoma's starting pitching has been solid. Jordan John has a 2.45 ERA, Jonathan Gray is at 4.06 and Dillon Overton is at 3.57 a ERA. The problem comes when the Sooners have to go to the bullpen. Steven Okert and Damien Magnifico are the only two relief pitchers with an ERA below 5.00 which leads to Oklahoma being fifth in the conference in team ERA at 3.70.
John will get the start on Friday night and Gray on Saturday. OU hasn't listed a starter for Sunday but there's really no reason, as of yet, to expect it not to be Overton. It goes without saying that Oklahoma's pitchers are going to need to be strong and go deep into the game to put the Sooners in position to pull out a win but they'll also need some run support.
Oklahoma's team batting average is down to .269 which places them sixth in the conference. Max White leads three Sooners hitting .300 or better. He's sporting a .353 average with a team high 49 RBI. Slumping Hunter Lockwood has been surpassed as the Big XII home run leader by Missouri's Dane Opel but he still leads the team at nine. Not being able to get clutch hitting and stringing together several hits in an inning has been an absolute killer for the Sooners this season.
Facing OU's batters will be a Baylor pitching staff that ranks third in the conference in team ERA with a 3.08 average. Josh Turley (7-0/1.74 ERA) will go on Friday and Trent Blank (9-0/2.43 ERA) will go on Saturday. The Bears have not named a Sunday starter either.
First pitch in the series is set for 6:30 tonight.