Bedlam: Three Reasons to Care

NORMAN, Okla. – No matter what the sport is, OU wants to defeat in-state rival Oklahoma State. It's that simple.

But when these two teams square off, there are usually conference standings implications on the line.

That's not the case for tonight's Bedlam matchup, slated for 6:30 p.m., on the diamond at L. Dale Mitchell Park.

So, why should people care about this non-conference game – other than the fact that the No. 9 Sooners (22-6, 5-3 Big 12) are playing the No. 23 Cowboys (21-7, 5-4 Big 12)?

Here are the top three reasons why everyone should care:

1. This game provides a great glimpse at what's to come during conference play: Both teams will be using the midweek matchup as a way to gain a scouting report on their opponent. Obviously they can't get a report on the starting pitchers, but they can learn a lot about the hitters' strengths and weaknesses around the time when these games will matter in the standings. OU and Oklahoma State will square off again in 10 days, so many of the reports the teams gather tonight will still be good for when they play for more than pride and RPI.

2. Keeping Momentum: The Sooners are finally playing like they did during their 16-0 start to the season. After dropping six of nine games through the shortened Missouri series, OU has won four straight games – one against St. Gregory's and three against Texas Tech – by a combined score of 50-10 by getting solid starts from its pitchers and crushing pitches misplaced in the strike zone. While the Sooners are finding their winning ways, the Cowboys have put together some pretty good wins recently, too. They have won two of their first three conference series, including taking two of three from the powerhouse that is known as the Texas Longhorns, and had won five straight games before dropping Sunday's series finale against Nebraska. Both teams are looking to keep the momentum on their side, but only one can go into this upcoming weekend with a "W."

3. Returning the Favor: The Cowboys won last year's midweek battle in Stillwater, and OU senior pitcher Michael Rocha admitted in a December interview that losing that game "really sparked something in us." So you know the Sooners, who are a very tough team to beat at home and are hosting a Bedlam game for the first time since 1996, are looking to take this year's midweek bragging rights. All midweek games are important, but expect a lot more intensity from the players, coaches and fans – especially the Yardbirds perched atop the visiting team's dugout – tonight.

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