Tucked into the meat of the Oklahoma Sooners’ Big 12 Conference schedule late in the season is a string of five random non-conference games.
Oklahoma is sitting atop the standings, tied with Oklahoma State for first place, and is in the middle of a quintet of games that matter less than any in the past two months.
It’s a perfect time for a letdown, especially with the Bedlam series looming next weekend. After a quick two-game sweep of Alcorn State, Oklahoma now plays host to a three-game series against Sam Houston State.
Keeping up the clean games and retaining momentum doesn’t come before the need for RBI-boosting victories, but playing with just one walk in an 18-inning stretch will ultimately lead to wins.
“We just have to keep winning games, and get positive momentum heading into a good weekend. It’s a non-con weekend, but we’re playing to get on all cylinders headed into the following weekend.”
The late-inning substitutions aren’t just garbage-time outs used to get experience. Hughes wants to build confidence so that he can make late-game swaps at key moments and no be worried.
Getting a good game out of Adam Choplick, who threw six shutout innings Wednesday, was big for developing the depth of the pitching staff.
Oklahoma didn’t commit an error in the second game against Alcorn State and walked just one batter through the whole series.
“You’ve gotta play clean baseball,” Hughes said. “It’s a day your program can get better. I thought we did a good job of that. … It was a good two nights.”
Recent postseason tournament predictions have Oklahoma, which is No. 63 in RPI, as a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The No. 23 Sooners have won nine straight after trading of wins and losses for the nine games before that.
The Sooners have won three straight Big 12 series and four out of five this season. This weekend isn’t a chance to extend that run, but it’s key to keep momentum going – because there’s a big series a week away.
“Every game that we should win, we need to win,” second baseman Kolbey Carpenter said. “Everything else is just a bonus. Getting these mid-week game is really important, obviously for your RPI. The weekend games, we know we have to take care of those. It’s really good for us to get these wins.”