NORMAN — No one in Oklahoma’s dugout wanted to guess where the Sooners would start their NCAA baseball tournament journey. The only prediction coach Sunny Golloway was willing to make was he believed his team had done enough to warrant a No. 2 seed, and, perhaps, deserved to dodge one of the eight national seeds in the regional round.
In that sense, the Sooners (38-22) got what they were looking for when the field of 64 was announced on Monday. OU will be the No. 2 seed in the Charlottesville, Va., Regional. It opens play against No. 3 seed Appalachian State (36-19) at 7 p.m. on Friday at Virginia’s Davenport Field.
“First of all, I am extremely excited for this group of young men who have been challenged and gone through an awful lot of adversity to be rewarded with two seed in the NCAA tournament,” Golloway said on Monday.
The Cavaliers (38-17-1) are the regional’s top seed. Army (41-13) is the fourth seed. Those teams will meet in the regional opener at 3 p.m. on Friday. The regional is a double-elimination tournament.
Most teams would loathe being shipped over 1,200 miles across the country. Considering recent history, the Sooners were fine with the assignment. OU’s 2010 trip to the College World Series came after winning a Super Regional series over Virginia in Charlottesville.
“We recognize the challenges that lie ahead having experienced a super regional in 2010 in Charlottesville,” Golloway said. “We also recognize that as a one seed, Virginia has advanced to the College World Series in two out of the last three years. We feel that the regional field will be tough, not just Virginia, and that we must play our best baseball to advance.”
The Sooners haven’t played any of the other teams this season. OU and Appalachian State share one common opponent — Samford. The Bulldogs finished two games behind the Mountaineers in the race for the Southern Conference title. OU took two of three from Samford in the final series of the regular season. The Mountaineers also took two of three from Samford.
Just having opponents left to play shows how hot OU has gotten over the three weeks. Sunday’s loss to Missouri in the Big 12 tournament championship game was just the Sooners’ third in the last 11 games. All of those losses were to teams that made it to the NCAA Tournament. OU was able to raise its standing in the Ratings Percentage Index 35 spots over the last three weeks. It was at No. 28 after the Big 12 tournament.
It was enough to get the Sooners safely inside the NCAA tournament bubble.
“Playing for this program, going to the postseason is what we expect to do,” OU center fielder Max White said. “And it’s always exciting because you put in countless hours to get to this point, but getting back to Omaha is the ultimate goal.”
In order to get there, OU needs to get three wins at Viriginia. The Charlottesville Regional is matched up with the Columbia Regional, featuring No. 1 South Carolina (No. 8 national seed), No. 2 Coastal Carolina, No. 3 Clemson and No. 4 Manhattan.
The winners will face off in the Super Regional round. If South Carolina wins, it will host.
“Clearly, the postseason is an exciting time, regardless of where we are going,” OU shortstop Caleb Bushyhead said. “I’ve been fortunate to be a part of four teams now, and we’ve been a national seed, hosted a couple, went to Omaha, and now we’ll be on the road the last two years. I think we’ve molded into a solid team right now. I think we have a great opportunity ahead of us.”
John Shinn 366-3536 firstname.lastname@example.org