The Oklahoma Sooners have yet to win the regular season since the birth of the Big 12 Conference. Nothing is new in that department and it has not stopped OU from reaching the NCAA Tournament. This year could be different as it is believed they will need to secure the Big 12 Tournament Championship to receive a berth, a feat they have not completed since 1997. Here is how the schedule plays out in the new condensed from on day one.
THURSDAY, MAY 23
No. 4 Oklahoma vs. No. 5 Baylor 9:00 a.m.
No. 1 K-State vs. No. 8 Texas Tech 12:30 p.m.
No. 3 West Virginia vs. No. 6 Kansas 4:00 p.m.
No. 2 Oklahoma State vs. No. 7 TCU 7:30 p.m.
As the close of the regular season drew to a close, the Big 12 Conference found itself with multiple teams in the running for the Championship. With an excellent start to the season, many fans were surprised by this Oklahoma Sooners ballclub as they were losing a ton of on the field leadership and experience. However, that all came crashing down as Sunny Golloway and his team finished 3-9 in the final twelve games while letting three teams slip ahead in the standings.
Kolbey Carpenter was a bright spot in the final game of the season as he knocking in three runs during a 7-3 victory over the Kansas St. Wildcats. As a team, Oklahoma comes into the tournament batting .285. Yet, away from home, the Sooners have only managed to pull out seven wins to ten losses and 3-3 at a neutral site. Matt Oberste is a familiar name who has his hitting moments. When things are going well for him, they are going extremely well but the vice versa is true as well. Joining Oberste in the .300+ club is Max White. These two cannot do it on their own as much more will be needed not only from the plate but also from the mound if the Sooners hope to secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
Jonathan Gray and Dillon Overton are still a solid one-two punch as starters. With the amount of pressure that has been on them all season long, they have held up well in route to recording eight wins a piece. Jacob Evans has a team best 1.41 ERA but it will undoubtedly be Gray's 1.69 ERA leading this team. Behind these two, there are plenty of questions as the bullpen averages a 3.08 ERA.
On the other side of this will be the Baylor Bears lead by Nathan Orf from behind the plate. Always looking for extra bases, Orf has a knack for a finding holes in the defense and boasts a very respectable .380 batting average. Don't underestimate the baseball IQ of this kid as he gets on base in multiple other ways including being walked 23 times and hit by pitch another 12 times. Cal Towey join Orf as the only two Bears to hit over .300 for the season.
One thing remains true for Baylor, it is the fact that their pitching has been a little suspect at times. As a team, BU has a 3.78 ERA. Crayton Bare has been a strong suit for this ballclub even though he has yet to receive a start. Seeing action in 26 games, Bare recorded six wins and two losses. Max Garner has the most experience this season as a starter (13 games) but has a 4.19 ERA.
Needless to say, this is a matchup that the Oklahoma Sooners have to potential to walk away from with a win, completing step one in the march to the NCAAs. It is an uphill climb and OU will have to work to earn a berth into the NCAA field.