OU Sweeps Season-Opening Series

NORMAN, Okla. – The No. 5 Sooners plated 42 runs in their opening-series sweep over the William and Mary Tribe this weekend at L. Dale Mitchell Park.

Despite the new bats, OU's highly touted offense had no problems scoring runs even though it didn't pour on the home-run parade until the series finale when the Sooners hit seven out of the park.

"An awful lot has been made of the new bats," said head coach Sunny Golloway. "I don't know how much of a difference it really is making, but I do know this: if you're a good hitter and you hit it on the sweet spot, it's going to go."

The seven balls to come off that newly-reduced sweet spot came off the bats of junior third baseman Garrett Buechele – who hit three this weekend – junior right fielder Cody Reine, junior designated hitter Evan Mistich and senior outfielder Elliot Blair.

Buechele's weekend wasn't just about the long ball, though. He collected 10 hits with the three homers being the only ones good for extra bases.

Another player who made a major impact for OU even though he didn't hit any homers was junior left fielder Erik Ross.

He killed the Tribe with his speed by pounding out seven hits, six of which were singles, in 13 at-bats and driving in six runs. Ross also had two stolen bases this weekend, and his speed forced two William and Mary errors that brought in runs.

And the Sooners got some nice starting pitching this weekend, too. Even though the middle-game starters didn't fare too well, senior pitcher Michael Rocha and freshman pitcher Dillon Overton put their best foot forward to start the year.

Rocha threw a one-hit gem in the Friday opener where every one of his pitches seemed to be working to perfection. And Overton threw like a seasoned vet by rarely missing with whichever pitch he hurled.

Although Overton looked poised, he admits some butterflies were brewing inside before his first pitch.

"Very nerve racking it started off actually," the lefty said. "Freshman coming in starting opening weekend is a big thing. Good thing for my family, so I did my best."

Other than putting up big numbers in the runs column, the Sooners used multiple blueprints to come away with four victories this weekend.

They dominated the first and fourth games of the series by pulling away with 7-1 and 13-1 victories, and they had to rely on the bullpen and their ability to come from behind during the middle two games. OU trailed in both of those games in the early innings, but came away with 9-6 and 13-4 victories.

Winning in many ways not only is a nice luxury to have but is also something that could help form the identity of this team, Golloway said.

"I think that gets to be an identity, not just of a team, but that's the identity of a program," Golloway said. "We're going to play nine innings. We're going to play hard. Our guys understand that. We don't get too high or too low during the course of a game or the course of a year."

Whether a semblance of an identity started developing this weekend, what is for certain is that the sweep puts the Sooners at 4-0 to start the year.

"It's big definitely," Mistich said. "William and Mary is not a bad team. It was good for us to come out here and get these four wins."

The Sooners return to L. Dale Mitchell Park on Tuesday and Wednesday to take on Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Golloway plans on throwing sophomore pitcher Ryan Gibson and redshirt freshman pitcher Jordan John for those two games.

Gibson didn't receive any action over the weekend, but pitched in 2010 primarily as a midweek starter. John threw three innings Saturday and will be making his first career start and first since having Tommy John surgery.

The two games are slated for 3 p.m. for both days.

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