OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – The good teams grind out every pitch, fight to win every inning and know that every out can be key. Oklahoma wasn’t that team before Sunday.
Winning the finale of its Bedlam series against Oklahoma State might have end a five-game losing streak, but it could also have glossed over an otherwise unimpressive week of baseball for a team that came into the series with a chance to take over first place in the Big 12 Conference.
Now, Oklahoma isn’t exactly guaranteed a spot in the Big 12 Tournament.
“They’re in the fight for the long haul here,” Oklahoma coach Pete Hughes said. “It’s nice to get out of that rut. Now we have to keep building and get on a win streak and build our résumé.”
Oklahoma (30-21, 11-7), which plays on the road at Kansas State and faces top-ranked TCU at home, has to just win one of its final six games to secure a spot in the tournament, but the Sooners will be playing for much more than just a berth in the Big 12 Championship in Tulsa. All year long, they’ve wanted to reach a regional – an achievement they missed out on last season.
Things could turn around soon, mentally and physically within the lineup.
The Sooners are obviously coming off a win, but they should also get junior utility man Alex Wise back for next week’s series against Kansas State. Hughes said they could hoped to have Wise back for this series but should see him back in uniform full-time next weekend.
Wise, who could lead off for the Sooners and gives Hughes the ability to be diverse with his lineup, pinch-hit Friday night but has been out since the first weekend of the season.
Avoiding the first regular-season sweep at the hands of Oklahoma State for the first time since 2007 was a big lift, though.
“We’re going to build on it,” Hughes said. “We have a pretty good challenge in front of us with playing on the road at Kansas State, which is really good in their home park. TCU, at the end, is going to be a critical series for us. For us, it’s all about winning series and beating good people, so we can be the best we can possibly be going into the Big 12 Tournament.”
During Craig Aikin’s freshman season, Oklahoma lost nine of its final 12 games in the regular season. Aikin has reminded reporters of it often. All was forgotten because the Sooners won seven-straight postseason games to reach a Super Regional.
He points it out, because all that needs to happen for the Sooners to make a run is the right spurt at the right time.
“I don’t want us to feel sorry for ourselves at any point,” Oklahoma center fielder Craig Aikin said after Saturday’s loss to Oklahoma State. “That’s when you start crawling in the dugout. You want to get out and fight. Tomorrow is a new day. It could be the start of 8, 10 in a row. That’s how we are going to approach it tomorrow. If we get hot and play well at the right time, we could be playing for a long time.”