“I’ve been thinking about this series since last year, because I didn’t have my best outing against them last year and we didn’t get any wins,” Gray said.
You could make a pretty strong argument that Gray’s career took off after his last appearance against the Longhorns. He went 6-1 in last season’s starts after losing to Texas. He’ll take the mound with a 5-1 record and a 1.34 ERA today. More importantly, the Sooners are 6-1 when he’s doing the pitching.
“He’s shown that even if he’s a little off, he can still dominate teams,” OU shortstop Jack Mayfield said. “Having him there and having Dillon Overton there on Saturday is a great feeling.”
Perhaps this will finally be the season OU reverses its fortunes against the Longhorns. The Big 12 Conference statistics say the Sooners have out-hit and out-pitched the Longhorns in the first half of the season.
Nevertheless, it’s the head-to-head match-ups that really matter. Texas has won 81 percent over the last 14 years, 11 of the last 12 overall and 19 of the last 21 in Austin.
It takes confidence to expel all those demons.
“Playing at Texas means they’re going to have a big crowd and it’s going to be loud,” Gray said. “You have to be mentally tough to pitch there. I think that’s an advantage for me. I think I pitch better when the crowd’s against me. I feel like I feed off that stuff.”
Whatever Gray does will have an enormous impact on the series. When he talks, his teammates listen. Where ever he leads them, they will follow.
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