NORMAN — The situation could be worse for Oklahoma. Its spot in the Big 12 tournament was secured last Sunday. It still has a path — an extremely narrow one — to the NCAA tournament.
That alone brought a sense of relief to L. Dale Mitchell Park on Wednesday.
“Since Oklahoma has never not qualified for it, I would say, yeah.” OU coach Pete Hughes said on Wednesday. “We’ve avoided that distinction.”
It’s a small amount of solace to a season that started a downward trend five weeks ago and has yet to level off, much less begin an ascension.
The last chance to do it in the regular season starts at 7 p.m. today at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City when OU (27-25, 7-14 Big 12) meet Oklahoma State (39-13, 16-5) in the opening game of the Bedlam series.
The rivalry will always be an enormous part of the series, but the baggage the Sooners and Cowboys carry into the three-game set, which moves to Tulsa’s ONEOK Field on Friday and Saturday, are polar opposites.
The Cowboys hold a one-game lead over TCU in the Big 12 standings. Just win two of three and the conference title is theirs.
OU doesn’t mind playing the spoiler role in its current circumstance.
“We don’t want them to win it. Anything we can do to keep that from happening, we’ll do. We’re gonna try to get a sweep,” OU third baseman Sheldon Neuse said.
Watching dogpiles at your expense isn’t easy. OU had to do it twice last season. Kansas State claimed the 2103 Big 12 title with a win over the Sooners in the second-to-last regular-season game.
Three weeks later, LSU punched its ticket to the College World Series with back-to-back wins over OU in the Baton Rouge Super Regional.