BATON ROUGE, La. — Just a few pitches before Oklahoma’s 2012 season ended, Sunny Golloway took a mental picture of the surroundings. Over 8,000 fans cheered on South Carolina as it was about to advance to its third straight College World Series.
“I wanted to absorb everything going on around,” OU’s head coach recalled, “because it’s what I foresee happening at Oklahoma someday. It was what you want.”
Ideally, what the Sooners wanted was the opportunity to advance to College World Series by playing at L. Dale Mitchell Park against a team that had traveled hundreds of miles to get there. It is by far the most common path for College World Series participants.
However, for the third time in the last four years the Sooners (43-19) have to do it the hard way. It has to go on the road for a Super Regional series and try to win two of three games in the most hostile of environments.
Make no mistake, OU knows the uphill battle it waged last season in Columbia, S.C., will be every bit as arduous when the series begins with Game 1 against LSU (55-9) at 6 p.m. today at Alex Box Stadium.
OU hasn’t played in Baton Rouge since the 1997 NCAA tournament. However, the Tigers’ history — both present and past — isn’t a secret.
LSU is a dominant team that boasts one of the most intimidating environments in college sports.
“I’ve heard from a lot of people that South Carolina and LSU are probably the toughest places to go play in the postseason,” Golloway said. “I think sending us to Columbia and playing against the Gamecocks last year prepared us for what we’re about to go into.”
It will be interesting to see how the Sooners handle things this time around. Honestly, they didn’t handle things so well in last year’s Super Regional. They lost those games, 5-0 and 5-1. They never led at any point in either game. South Carolina leaned on the Sooners in both games and they buckled in the middle to late innings.