OU Preview

While this series may not get the attention that last week's did, the matchup against the Sooners may end up being even more crucial for postseason positioning. Websider's Lanny Hayes previews the weekend, where the Aggies must close out on a high note to stand a good chance at a favorable schedule through the playoffs.

The Texas A&M baseball team takes back to the field this weekend against the Oklahoma Sooners and, despite being unable to win another regular season league title, the implications are perhaps even more staggering.

The Aggies are playing for postseason positioning, and it's amazing that literally anything can happen with just three regular season games remaining. Each different weekend result lines A&M up with a different path to the postseason.

Should Oklahoma sweep the Aggies, certainly a worst case scenario, Aggie fans should prepare to be on the road for the first weekend of regional play. Sure, A&M would be one of the highest two-seeds in the nation, but teams are more often placed with geography instead of S-Curve seeding, so a trip to someplace like Rice, LSU, TCU, or Arkansas would be likely.

One Aggie win puts A&M directly on the hosting bubble, and the Ags would need a very good weekend at the Big 12 tournament to have a shot at hosting. More likely, should Oklahoma win two of three, the Sooners would earn the host spot that most analysts are currently giving to A&M.

Two Aggie wins, barring a total meltdown in Oklahoma City, should lock up a one-seed and a first round host for the Aggies. Not only would this lock up no worse than a tie for third in league finish, but would almost totally lock a Top 16 RPI and 36 overall wins. That should get the job done.

Should A&M pull off an unlikely sweep in Norman, they're squarely in the discussion for a national seed. Three wins will run A&M's RPI into the top ten, possibly as high as sixth, and the rest of the resume is attractive enough to make the Aggies a prime candidate to host all the way to Omaha.

The Aggies will see a very different opponent this weekend than last. While the Longhorns featured an opportunistic offense with the nation's best pitching staff, Oklahoma will sport one of the best offenses and trail behind with the arms. Entering the weekend, the Sooners are hitting .322 and lead the Big 12 with 83 home runs. Like the Aggies, Oklahoma has four players with double digit homerun totals, but outslug the Ags by 45 points. The Sooners will move around the basepaths as much as the Aggies (63 swipes in 86 attempts), and are also a bit more likely to play small-ball.

In fact, though, the Sooners offensive season numbers look a lot like what the Ags have done in recent weeks. Since the wholesale offensive changes at the Rice game, A&M is hitting .336 and averaging nearly eight runs per game. The team's OBP has soared to .437 during that period, along with a very good .551 slugging percentage.

The Aggie pitching staff will need to be on their game against the high flying Oklahoma offense, and continuing their pace since that Rice game should also pay dividends. Since then, Rob Childress' staff has a 3.26 ERA and are striking out 8.58 batters per game. If one excludes the offensive explosions of one Dallas Baptist and Texas game, the group the ERA falls down to 2.37. A&M has gotten tremendous performances from the bullpen during that time, outside of one bad game from Kyle Thebeau (who does hold a Big 12 ERA that's south of 2.00).

The table is clearly set for A&M, with all possible postseason paths in front of them. It literally comes down to one series, and any result that includes at least a pair of Aggie wins should lock up some postseason baseball at Olsen Field.




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