Oklahoma certainly has a tough mountain to climb.
With just about any opportunity for an at-large bid out the window with a RPI sitting at 75 after a sweep at the hands of No. 3 TCU, the Sooners need to win out. But the regular season is finished. Oklahoma will have to be on its game in the Big 12 Championship.
The Sooners will open play against No. 6 Kansas State at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday in the first round. Oklahoma has to win the Big 12 Championship – even if it doesn’t win every game in the double-elimination format.
“It all starts with momentum,” Oklahoma coach Pete Hughes said after a loss this past weekend. “We have to get the momentum going.”
Hughes said that there’s no momentum that could be taken away from a series sweep at the hands of TCU, even though the Sooners lost by a combined five runs against one of the top teams in the country.
This is Oklahoma’s last stand.
The Sooners will play once every day and twice on Saturday if necessary:
Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.
Thursday at either 12:30 p.m. (Wednesday loss) or 7:30 p.m. (with a win)
Friday at 7 p.m. if they’re still alive.
Saturday at 12:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Sunday’s championship is scheduled for noon.
Oklahoma’s road is simple to breakdown. Although, it’s also quite difficult to complete. Here’s a hypothetical look at what Oklahoma will have to accomplish to make the NCAA Tournament:
Sooners hold off Kansas State - It’s pretty clear that if Oklahoma is going to win the Big 12 Championship, there’s no way it can fall into the losers’ bracket after the first game. The Sooners will need a little buffer, and starting pitcher Jake Elliott will redeem one of the worst performances of the season – his last game against KSU – with a solid first outing.
Find a way to beat Oklahoma State – Coming into the tournament, Oklahoma is 1-3 against the Cowboys this season. No big first round upset of Oklahoma State by West Virginia should be expected, which means it’s finally time that Oklahoma wins a meaningful game at the Cowboys, who are fresh off a series win against Michigan and a victory against the No. 1 RPI team in the nation, Dallas Baptist. The Sooners hang in early but fall just one loss from the end of the season.
Time for a rematch - Oklahoma draws either Kansas State or West Virginia, which actually beat Oklahoma State in the Pokes last Big 12 series that was shortened to just one game because of weather. With Elliott and Tasin spent, Alec Hansen pitches a gem to move on.
An old foe - Oklahoma State again, and Adam Choplick pitches the game of his life thanks to a renewed confidence. A timely hit makes the difference and Oklahoma staves off elimination once more.
Bedlam Round 7 for the title - In what will be the seventh game of the season series between the two rivals just a few hours later, Oklahoma has to find a pitcher. It turns to senior Jeff Curran, but it’s the Sooners’ bats that make the difference. In a high-scoring affair, a late rally pushes Oklahoma to the championship game.
Dethroning the Horned Frogs - Elliott comes back after just three days off. Kolbey Carpenter, who would have needed to have a special week for the Sooners to reach the title game, makes a last statement for Big 12 Player of the Year. Anthony Hermelyn comes up with another big day against TCU. Oklahoma finally busts through with a win.
It’s a long road, but it’s the only one Oklahoma gets to travel. Ultimately, it breaks down like this: The Sooners will probably have to play Oklahoma State three times just to get to a championship game with TCU. That’s four games against two of the top 15 teams in the country.