The Norman Transcript

Sports

May 23, 2013

Even under immense scrutiny, Sooners not in do-or-die mode

(Continued)

NORMAN —

Golloway also pointed out that having Jonathan Gray, who will take the mound against the Bears today and could be the first player selected in next month’s Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, was also a strong selling point.

Nonetheless, the label OU has to shake is that of a team in the midst of a downward spiral. There’s no getting around the fact it’s lost its last three series to West Virginia, Oklahoma State and Kansas State. Sandwiched between those series losses were two midweek losses to Dallas Baptist. They’re 3-8 over their last 10 games.

The Big 12 tournament is the last chance to show OU can start ticking back up.

“I don’t think we’re taking it as do or die,” first baseman Matt Oberste said. “We’d really like to win this one (Big 12 tournament). We were close last year but didn’t get it done. We want to win a few games. I still think we’re gonna get a regional bid, but we want to win a Big 12 championship.”

The difference between need and want is what it all comes down to. Win the Big 12 tournament and the need for an at-large bid goes away.

Either way, the Sooners know winning games in Oklahoma City can solve problems — real or perceived. They just don’t want to be told extending their season hinges on winning the Big 12 tournament.

“We have to be relaxed. We can’t go into a game all tense and worried about this could be last game of the season,” outfielder Craig Aikin said. “You have to have fun and stay loose to play your best ball.”

The Sooners haven’t in a while, but it’s baseball. Teams can get hot or cold with one swing of the bat. They believe their fortunes are about to change. They just refuse to believe their NCAA tournament hopes hinge on it happening.

“I don’t think that mindset would be the best for these guys,” outfielder Max White said. “It’s not do or die, but more intense and more energetic. We know we have to exhaust our efforts this weekend.”

John Shinn

Follow me @john_shinn

jshinn@normantranscript.com

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