The Oklahoma Sooners (32-17, 10-8 Big 12) have rebounded nicely from a disastrous April with back-to-back series wins against West Virginia and Kansas State. Sitting at No. 22 in the RPI and holding third place in one of the nation’s best conferences, OU should slide comfortably into this year’s NCAA tournament for the first time in the Pete Hughes era.
Still, Oklahoma has a lot to play for this weekend when it welcomes the first-place TCU Horned Frogs (35-11, 15-6 Big 12) to L. Dale Mitchell. With its rebound, Oklahoma has kept alive the possibility of a conference championship, which would be huge. But perhaps a more attainable goal would be hosting a regional in the tourney, something the program hasn’t done since 2010. Win the series, and OU’s in great position to do just that.
The (Probable) Matchups
Friday, 6:30 p.m.: Jake Irvin (6-0, 2.44) vs. Nick Lodolo (5-1, 4.71), FSOK
Saturday, 2 p.m.: Devon Perez (5-2, 3.52) vs. Brian Howard (7-3, 4.74), FSOK
Sunday, 1 p.m.: Kyle Tyler (0-1, 3.79) vs. Mitchell Traver (2-1, 3.72), FCSC
Understandably, it’s easy to be intimidated by Jim Schlossnagle’s powerhouse TCU program, a perennial World Series contender and regular conference champion. But the team’s shiny record belies a surprising truth: its pitching staff is underperforming. Texas Tech is undoubtedly the Big 12’s best team regardless of what the standings show, and away from Fort Worth the Frogs are a good-but-mortal 10-7.
Pair that with OU’s 21-5 home record, and you have the recipe for a (minor) upset this weekend at the Mitch. TCU rarely sees one-two punches like strikeout machines Jake Irvin and Devon Perez, and if the healthy Sooners can keep the TCU offense in check, the sky’s the limit for their playoff potential.
Check out this profile of OU’s new No. 3 hitter Renae Martinez, a catcher who’s become the heart of the Sooner offense even as he guides the pitching staff to greatness. OU will need a big weekend from him and other power hitters like Austin O’Brien and Steele Walker, but if TCU’s 21-3 loss to Tech on April 30 is any indication, the Sooner offense can definitely make some noise against this team.
I don’t mean to sound overconfident — TCU could well end up back at the World Series this season. That wouldn’t surprise me at all. They were preseason No. 1 for a reason.
But give me the Sooners to take two of three here. I don’t think TCU is as good as the record shows, and I’d love to see OU expose that for a rare series victory over the Frogs.