Samford's Brandon Miller has belted 20 home runs this season. Photo via i.turner.ncaa.com
As Oklahoma heads into the final weekend of the college baseball regular season they still very much have their NCAA Tournament hopes on the line. After getting a much needed sweep over Baylor last weekend the Sooners dropped a mid-week contest against #20 TCU on Tuesday night.
Samford comes to Norman with a decent RPI ranking of #58 which means a series win, or better yet a weekend sweep, will Bolster Oklahoma's chances of a post-season birth. They're not a team that you want to overlook though.
The Bulldogs return 23 players from last year's team that finished 37-23 overall. So far this year they've scored a 34-19 season record. Led by Saxon Butler (.346), Samford has five players hitting .300 or better. Butler has 11 home runs and 51 RBI. However, Brandon Miller has a team high 20 homers with 58 RBI. With a total of 55 home runs on the season, the Samford lineup provides multiple challenges.
Even with Tuesday's loss to TCU Oklahoma still climbed in the RPI rankings one or two spots depending on which ranking you look at. Nolan currently has them sitting at 48.
Going against them will be an Oklahoma starting rotation that has finished the season extremely strong. Jordan John will be the Thursday night starter. He's compiled a 8-5 record and a 2.23 ERA. Friday will bring Jonathan Gray to the mound. He's 6-4 on the season with a 3.67 ERA. The Sooners don't have a game three starter listed for Saturday yet but Dillon Overton and Damien Magnifico are the likely suspects. All of Oklahoma's pitchers will have to tread lightly this weekend because the Bulldogs can make you pay for leaving a ball hanging over the plate.
Max White will lead Oklahoma's lineup against Samford. His .343 batting average and 50 RBI are both team highs. Matt Oberste saw his average climb up to .307 last week. He could be coming on strong at just the right time to be a boost to the Sooner bats.
The good news for Oklahoma is that Samford only has one lefty starter and won't be throwing him until Saturday. Josh Martin puts his 10-1 record and 3.06 ERA on the line Thursday night in the series opener. Friday the Bulldogs will put Charles Basford on the mound. He has a 3.86 ERA and an 8-1 record. On Saturday the Sooners will be looking to end their streak of bad luck against left handed pitchers when they take on Lex Rutledge. He has a 1-3 record on the season and a 6.82 ERA.
First pitch in the series is set for 6:30 tonight. I will be at the game as Oklahoma's Sports Fan Ambassador. You can follow my experience on Twitter @SoonerSportsFan.