Sooners Head to Waco For Pivotal Series

The No. 7 Sooners enter the final weekend of regular season play with a lot on the line as they travel to Waco, Texas, to square off against the Baylor Bears starting at 6:30 Thursday evening.

OU (39-13, 13-9 Big 12) is still in the hunt for second place in the conference and for one of 16 regional host bids, but the team has to do something it has not done all season to help accomplish those feats: win a conference series on the road.

The Sooners are 0-3-1 in conference series away from Norman – one of those series losses was played at a neutral site against Oklahoma State – after being predicted to win the Big 12 during the preseason.

But OU's recent success could put a one in the road series win column.

The Sooners are riding a nine-game winning streak, including sweeps against Kansas and New Mexico, and head coach Sunny Golloway admits they have played like a different team since giving away two games against Oklahoma State.

The Bears (27-23, 11-13 Big 12) haven't defended their home diamond well.

They are 1-2 in home conference series with their series losses coming against Texas Tech – a team OU swept – and Missouri, who the Sooners split two games with in Columbia.

Baylor has played series against Texas and Texas A&M in which games were played at both team's home field, and the Bears went 1-2 in the three games they hosted.

Neither team should be favored just by their records based on location, so Golloway will try to give his team the advantage with the weekend's pitching rotation.

Senior pitcher Michael Rocha (10-2, 1.54 ERA) will be making his usual opening-game start, and junior pitcher Burch Smith (9-3, 3.82 ERA) and redshirt freshman Jordan John (4-0, 2.36 ERA) will follow with the Friday and Saturday starts.

John has worked his way into the weekend rotation in recent weeks after senior pitcher Bobby Shore was removed from the role due to multiple injuries to his throwing arm and shoulder.

In two weekend starts in May, he has allowed five runs (four earned) and has struck out 16 batters in 13 innings.

With this series being the last before the Big 12 Tournament in Oklahoma City starts, the Sooners have a shot to improve to second place, but it'll require some help.

OU trails the Texas Longhorns, who are concluding their regular season against conference-leading Texas A&M, by two in the loss column for second.

If the Sooners sweep Baylor and the Aggies sweep Texas, then OU will take over second place by percentage points.

The final two games of OU's series with the Bears are slated for 6:30 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday.

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