Maybe a four-day break is exactly what the doctor ordered for the Oklahoma Sooners (30-16, 8-7 Big 12), who played no midweek contest after winning a tough series in Morgantown last weekend. Tonight they travel to Manhattan, Kan. for a three-game set with the Kansas State Wildcats (25-20, 4-11 Big 12), a team that, on paper, shouldn’t give the Sooners much trouble.
The Sooners are finally getting healthy and may be rounding into form at the right time after a disastrous April. But losing a series against Big 12 cellar-dwellers would be a huge hit to the Oklahoma resume, so this will be an important weekend for OU.
The (Probable) Matchups
Friday: Jake Irvin (5-0, 2.14) vs. Justin Heskett (5-2, 3.14), 6:35 p.m., FCSC
Saturday: Kyle Tyler (0-1, 3.27) vs. Parker Rigler (4-4, 3.03), 2 p.m., ESPN3
Sunday: Devon Perez (4-2, 4.10) vs. Kasey Ford (2-0, 5.02), 1 p.m., ESPN3
Last weekend’s series victory was a huge buoy to OU’s postseason hopes, as the Sooners staff kept West Virginia at four runs or less all series. Now healthier than it’s been since the start of the year, OU’s starting three will look to mow down the Wildcats and, most importantly, avoid injury.
In the lineup, Cade Harris seems to have locked down the left field spot, starting the last four games there. Harris is batting .205/.450/.256 with a gaudy 19 walks and 13 strikeouts in 39 at bats.
Meanwhile catcher Renae Martinez and center fielder Steele Walker continue to hold down the heart of the Sooners lineup with identical .345 batting averages and 11 home runs between them.
The postseason is rapidly approaching — after K-State, OU will come home for a crucial showdown with TCU and then play the annual neutral site Bedlam series. After that, the Big 12 tourney.
Kansas State is probably the weakest team on OU’s Big 12 schedule, but the Sooners can’t afford a setback against them. With TCU remaining on the schedule, a conference championship is still mathematically possible for the Sooners, but only if they take care of business in Kansas.
The Sooners understand this is an opportunity to put April behind them, and I think they will. Give me a series sweep in Manhattan.