By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Oklahoma third baseman Garrett Buechele did some homework after Sunday’s regional clinching victory over North Carolina. He went to his computer to unearth some information on Virginia, the Sooners’ Super Regional foe.
He had to settle for statistics.
“I went online last night and started looking at some of their stats and the first thing that really stuck out to me was their pitching staff looks phenomenal,” Buechele said. “They have great starting pitching.”
Buechele’s Google search underlines what college baseball is like in the postseason. The 64 teams that got into the tournament earned their way in, but getting detailed information is tough. Even a team like Virginia, which was the No. 5 national seed and has been ranked in the top 10 in all four major college baseball polls, is relatively unknown outside of its region and conference.
Coaches are able to come up with game film. They will have detailed scouting reports by the time the best-of-three series begins at 2 p.m. Saturday at Virginia’s Davenport Field. Getting that information is part of coaching.
Casual observers have little to go on.
Past meetings are one source of knowledge.
The Sooners and Cavaliers haven’t met on the diamond since January 1999. That means absolutely nothing since over 11 years have passed. They share a common opponent in North Carolina. The Sooners won two one-run game from the Tar Heels to win the Norman Regional. The Cavaliers swept the Tar Heels during the regular season, winning all three games by three runs or less.
The lack of information was one of the reasons Buechele’s curiosity didn’t flow throughout the Sooner dugout Tuesday.
Others, like OU pitcher Zach Neal, didn’t see the need to study up.
“I don’t know much about Virginia and I don’t care to know much about them,” he said. “It’s just another team in the other dugout. We’re just going to go play baseball.”
It is what makes the NCAA Baseball Tournament unique from the basketball version.
College basketball is a staple of winter television. Of the 64 teams in March Madness only a handful haven’t played before a national television audience.
Baseball is different.
Some games make their way onto television. But games televised outside of the region or conference they play in are rare.
About the only teams that ever play games seen throughout the country are during Super Regionals and the College World Series.
The Sooners haven’t been to Omaha since 1996. The Cavaliers made their first trip last season.
The fact that Virginia has been heavily favored to return to the College World Series doesn’t matter much.
“They are not going to know much about Oklahoma, and we won’t know a whole lot about Virginia other than what we see on tape and on paper,” OU coach Sunny Golloway said. “…But we’ll be ready to play.”
John Shinn 366-3536 firstname.lastname@example.org