Sizzling Sooners Setting Tempo Early

NORMAN, Okla. – What avid OU baseball follower isn't excited about what's going on at L. Dale Mitchell Park??

The Sooners are in the middle of a historic 14-game winning streak to start the season. They're ranked as high as second. And the biggest concern right now is what to do at second base once junior Caleb Bushyhead returns as the everyday shortstop (he's expected to return to the lineup Friday).

Heck, even head coach Sunny Golloway's pencil is grabbing some attention on Twitter with the Sunny_2Pencil account.

But how important is this start?

Other than the obvious fact that OU is receiving more national attention and respect and possibly filling more seats at the ballpark as people within the program hope for this upcoming weekend, this start has really made the rest of the season easier.

The Sooners still have to play the same schedule with the same attitude of playing for today that they started the season with, but jumping out to this many wins this quickly allows them to not have "must wins" later in the season like they did at the end of last year.

The upcoming weekend series against Arkansas-Little Rock – the first game is slated for 3 p.m. Friday – should be a series victory if not a sweep. I wouldn't be surprised if the Sooners sweep that series because they are one of the hottest teams and they are very difficult to beat at home, but I'm not calling a sweep here just yet.

But after this short weekend homestand, the Sooners should be 17-0 or 16-1 going into the team's true test before conference play begins.

OU will play a two-game set at Arizona State on March 15 and 16 that will really give everyone a sense of how good this team is.

After that, the Sooners will start the heavy load of their schedule of playing conference games on the weekend and nonconference games on weekdays.

OU was predicted by the coaches to win the Big 12, and the only series the Sooners are at significant risk of losing is the one against the Texas Longhorns in Austin, Texas. Although OU is playing better ball than the conference-patriarch Longhorns, you can't predict that series going in its favor because of its current eight-game losing streak and mental block hovering over the Sooners.

Other than that series, though, don't be surprised if OU wins every other one. It won seven of nine series during conference in each of the past two years, and this year shouldn't be any different. The midweek games are the ones everyone should be taking a look at in terms of the stress relief this start has caused.

The Sooners couldn't afford to lose midweek games at certain points last year, but now they can lose a couple of those games without killing their RPI and chances of earning a national seed. As long as they play well during conference play or win the outright Big 12 title, those games won't be the determining factors between possibly playing a Super Regional round at home or on the road.

Of course OU and its fans don't want to see those games turn into losses because they're affordable losses, but just keep that perspective in mind before overreacting if the situation becomes reality.

As long as this quality of play continues – there isn't a reason why it shouldn't all the way through June – Sooner Nation should enjoy what Golloway and his boys are doing.

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