Key to OU winning: Timely hitting--The Sooners must have timely hitting, something that has been absent at various points in the season. OU didn't get very much in the way of timely hitting in the Big 12 Tournament, a major reason why it lasted only three games with a pair of losses to Kansas State. If OU does, however, string together hits at the right times, it'll be very dangerous.
Who OU will have to lean on: Ace pitcher Michael Rocha--He's been devastating this year, racking up a 10-3 record while posting a sizzling 1.79 ERA. That has aided him in becoming a member of the All-Big 12 First Team, a Louisville Slugger Second Team All-American and one of 30 semifinalists for the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award. When Rocha's been on his game, his stuff has been virtually un-hittable, and the Sooners will need that in this regional.
X-Factor: Pitcher Bobby Shore--Shore, who guided the Sooners to the College World Series last year with the clinching wins in both Regionals and Super Regionals, has battled shoulder tendinitis throughout the year. But he's supposedly healthy and ready to go. That will strongly solidify OU's rotation in this event. In 15 appearances in 2011, Shore has managed a 3-2 record with a 4.14 ERA.
Why the Sooners could win it: Experience--It hasn't proved to be as big of a factor this year as anticipated, but the postseason is a point when it really could. With all but one position player, a starting pitcher and setup man returning from last year, the Sooners figured to win the Big 12 and earn a national seed. Neither of those happened. In fact, OU didn't even get a No. 1 seed and regional host. But that experience, coupled with the fact that OU has fared well against the opponents in this field, is reason to believe it will be the last one standing in Fort Worth.
Why they won't emerge from Fort Worth: Inconsistency--This has kind of been the story of the season, inconsistency and almost but not quite. If the Sooners are inconsistent again at the plate and fail to come through in the clutch, they won't beat TCU and may even fall again to Dallas Baptist.
Biggest advantage vs. the field: Pitching--The Sooners have four, possibly five very solid starters they can roll out in this regional. Along with Rocha and Shore, who figure to be the No. 1 and No. 3 guys in the rotation, respectively, OU also boasts Burch Smith (10-3, 3.62 ERA), Dillon Overton (8-4, 2.10 ERA) and Jordan John (4-1, 2.50 ERA). Not only that, but the all-time OU saves leader is on the back end in closer Ryan Duke. Although he's been relatively poor as of late, Duke has closed seven games this year.
Biggest concern: Inability to manufacture runs--As previously mentioned, the Sooners have had some trouble coming up with the timely hits they need. Along with that, they have been thrown out stealing bases, failed to lay down bunts in pivotal situations and struggled in other ways that have prevented them from plating crucial runs. This can't happen with any type of consistency.
So, there it is. Should the Sooners take care of DBU, they'll play the winner at 7 p.m. CT Saturday, but if they lose, they'll face the loser at 2 p.m. CT.