June 3, 2012; Charlottesville, VA, USA; Oklahoma Sooner catcher Tanner Toal (31) tags out Army Black Knights outfielder Matthew Carter (5) in the 4th inning in game three of the Charlottesville regional at Davenport Field. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Laferriere-US PRESSWIRE
It is no secret that the South Carolina Gamecocks have been a dominating force in the realm of college baseball over the past three seasons. When push comes to shove, no one has been able to scathe the Gamecocks while blemishing their run of 20 consecutive wins in NCAA Tournament play. Now, facing the Oklahoma Sooners, USC is looking to continue building toward a third national championship in just as many years. However, what Sooner fans have seen is that when everything is on the line, Oklahoma rises to the occasion.
There is no need to go back any further than regional play. The Sooners were able to secure the two seed after a late season surge and surprise appearance in the Big XII Championship game. In their opener of the Charlottesville Regional, Oklahoma dropped their opening game to three seeded Appalachian St. forcing them into the loser's bracket.
In a double elimination format, dropping your opening game does not bode well. It puts pressure on a ball club to perform at a very high level for several days as every game is an elimination game. While most teams would crumble, Oklahoma continued to play well as they squeaked by Army in extra innings.
But, that was just the beginning of it. While the Army game was a nail-biter, it broke a five game losing streak for the Sooners in NCAA Tourney play. Before beating Army, the last win came in 2010 against none other than the South Carolina Gamecocks in the opener of the College World Series.
Later in that day, Oklahoma would need to survive another onslaught against one of the better teams in the nation in the Virginia Cavaliers. Again, the Sooners would edge their opponent securing a chance to live another day. While it had the look of playing four games in just under 48 hours, the question began to center around depth. Two more games were needed if Oklahoma wanted to make it out of regional play and they got just that.
Appalachian St. proved they were not to be taken lightly as they handed Virginia their first loss of the double elimination format. Oklahoma would need to beat them twice in the same day to keep their heads above water. Again, when the Sooners have their backs against they wall, they rose to the occasion and completed the unthinkable...winning the Charlottesville Regional from the loser's bracket.
In that stretch the Sooners have connected for 32 hits to go along with 26 runs.
Now, the Sooners find themselves in a familiar situation. While the games have more time between them, it is not unchartered territory. With the season on the line, Oklahoma will need to come through in the clutch. The bats will need to get going in order to compete with the Gamecocks and put the pressure on them. USC is the clear favorite here but has shown they do have weaknesses. It will be the Sooners job to exploit these weaknesses. But I fully expect the Sooners to come out swinging given the way they have performed in the past.