NORMAN — The disappointment of a midweek loss as it prepares for a key Big 12 Conference series isn’t a new feeling for Oklahoma. The loss to Dallas Baptist was another hit to its hopes for hosting an NCAA tournament.
However, it was not a knockout punch. What happens in the final three weekends of the regular season will have a much bigger impact. The road starts with three games against West Virginia at Appalachian Power Park in Charleston, W.Va., beginning at 5:30 p.m. today.
“This weekend is going to be really big,” first baseman Matt Oberste said. “We have to go up there and win the series. If we win the series, that will keep us in the race.”
The race is very tight. OU (33-12, 10-5) has a percentage points lead over Baylor (25-20, 11-6) with nine games to go. Baylor just has two series left. The difference is a rainout during the Bears’ series against Oklahoma State back in March.
In third place sit both Kansas State (32-14, 9-6) and the Mountaineers (27-19, 9-6). The schedule sets up for OU to either pull away or get dragged down in the final three weeks of the season.
Few predicated West Virginia, playing in the Big 12 Conference for the first time, would be much of a threat this season. Instead, the Mountaineers have been the surprise team of the league. They took two of three from Texas April 19-21 and are coming off a three-game sweep of Kansas.
OU coach Sunny Golloway isn’t surprised by West Virginia’s success.
“I understand the psychology of college baseball,” he said. “If you tell me we’re going to finish dead last, I promise you we won’t, because we have nowhere to go but up. Absolutely, you’re loose as a goose and that’s how you want to play this game.”