Something has been holding Oklahoma back over the last week-and-a-half, when the Sooners have lost five of their past six games. It’s something that’s been lurking all season.
With just one senior in its core rotation, there’s a lacking experience in Oklahoma’s roster, although they did have five of their top six players return from significant time last season.
It has led to a little bit of inconsistency.
Oklahoma coach Pete Hughes mentioned after the Sooners’ series against Oklahoma State that there are no outs in the Cowboys’ lineup. Because of holes or a few stretches of unpredictability, Oklahoma doesn’t quite have that.
“That’s one through nine where you have to grind out every pitch,” Hughes said about the Oklahoma State lineup. “We weren’t like that those last five games.”
Oklahoma (30-21, 11-7 Big) opens its series against Kansas State tonight in need of just one victory to secure a spot in the conference tournament. It has a chance to finally put its lineup together.
Utility outfielder and early-season lead-off man Alex Wise should return to the lineup full-time this weekend after a long hiatus because of injury, giving Hughes plenty of options with the batting order and defensive alignment. Catcher Chris Shaw had one of his best games Sunday against Oklahoma State.“He’s a four, five guy talent wise if we get that going,” Hughes said. “. . . He could be our most dynamic player, and we haven’t had him for a long time.”
Wise gives Oklahoma a right-handed bat at the top of its lineup, as well. It’s not just at the plate where the Sooners can make improvements, though.
“We have to play better defense,” Hughes said. “When you don’t have one through nine and you can’t give up easy soft run. You have to pitch and play defense all the time.”
Oklahoma, which has won three straight road series, heads to Kansas State for a big three-game set that could put the Sooners in position for a high seed in the Big 12 Tournament.
It started with avoiding a Bedlam sweep.
“I think it helped us to get back on track and hopefully gain some momentum going into this next series,” said second baseman Kolbey Carpenter, who is in the running for Big 12 Player of the Year. “Hopefully, we can play better these next two weekends and get some wins.”