The Norman Transcript

April 30, 2013

Sooners must stay focused to secure Big 12 supremacy

By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Oklahoma claimed another series this weekend. However, the ending left a bitter taste. Dropping the finale to Texas Tech, 9-3, Sunday wasn’t the way the Sooners wanted their last regular-season series at L. Dale Mitchell Park to end.

OU (33-11, 10-5 Big 12) is still atop the conference standings. There are three conference series left to play: Friday-Sunday at West Virginia, May 10-12 against Oklahoma State and May 17-19 at Kansas State .

But what OU missed Sunday was a chance to pad its lead. Its advantage over second-place Baylor is mere percentage points. The lead over third-place Kansas State and West Virginia is just one game.

OU coach Sunny Golloway didn’t speak with reporters following Sunday’s loss. He was ejected from the game in the seventh inning. However, he talked Saturday about how winning series is essential for landing NCAA tournament bids. Getting sweeps were the essential ingredient in winning a Big 12 championship.

“When you’re in first place, it’s huge,” he said. “We’ve played rubber games in the past where that third game didn’t matter because the important thing was getting an at-large (NCAA tournament) bid.”

The Sooners have now won four of their five conference series. The sole setback was dropping two of three at Baylor. However, the only sweep in that span was the conference opener against TCU.

The Sooners face Dallas Baptist (22-22) at 6:30 p.m. today at Homer Ballpark in Dallas. It is one of two midweek games OU has left on the schedule. The Patriots come to L. Dale Mitchell Park May 7 for the Sooners’ home finale.

The game won’t mean anything in the Big 12 standings. Frankly, it’s another game OU cannot afford to lose because of the damage it would do in the Ratings Percentage Index. OU is currently No. 41. Dallas Baptist is No. 170.

“I know we have to try to win every single game. Even if we’ve won 10 or 12 in a row, every day is a new day,” freshman center fielder Craig Aikin said. “Tuesday, we’ll be out there trying to get another winning streak started.”

The regular-season’s last three weeks will display just how well OU can handle the pressure of trying to win the Big 12 Conference. The position is new to them. The last time OU even had shot at winning the league this late in the year was 2009. It’s never spent six straight weekends in first place.

They’ve reached the point in the season where teams that win conference titles separate themselves from the pack. OU still has three series to do that.

However, an opportunity was missed Sunday. The Sooners know it. They cannot afford to let another one slip away.

John Shinn

Follow me @john_shinn

jshinn@normantranscript.com

 

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