NORMAN, Okla. — Can Oklahoma win one game this week?
Its season might depend on it.
A single victory would guarantee the Sooners (9-12 Big 12) a spot in next week’s Big 12 baseball tournament. If they get swept by Texas (6-14) in Austin this weekend, things become a little uncertain.
Here’s a look at where the bottom four teams in the Big 12 stand right now:
• OU (9-12)
• Kansas (9-12)
• Kansas State (8-13)
• Texas (6-14)
A Texas sweep would give the Longhorns and Sooners each nine conference wins, with Texas owning the tiebreakers based on head-to-head competition and winning percentage.
OU owns a tiebreaker over the other two teams in the bottom of the standings — Kansas (9-12) and Kansas State (8-13), which play each other this week.
But three OU losses at Texas — coupled with K-State taking 2 of 3 games against KU — would eliminate OU’s tiebreaker advantage over the Kansas schools. Under that scenario, K-State and KU’s 10 wins in the conference would best OU’s nine, effectively pushing the Sooners from the Big 12 tournament picture.
OU has played in every Big 12 tournament since the league's inception in 1997. Texas has missed it just twice (1997, 2013).
“I just think you play the game. You don’t talk about the tournament. You don’t talk about the regional. I think you go out there and play baseball, and let it take care of itself,” OU coach Skip Johnson. “If things happen the right way, they happen the right way.
“I think we’ve made a big difference in the last three weeks, starting at Minnesota. We started playing really good.”
OU came close to clinching its postseason spot Sunday, but lost 10-7 to Oklahoma State.
“We can’t think about that,” OU senior Brylie Ware said. “In all honesty, when we think about that it just puts more pressure on us. So we just got to go out and play baseball like we know how. We came really close this weekend to beating a really good team twice.”
Ware hit a team-high .333 last week, breaking up a recent slump. He was 2 for 23 going into the Bedlam series.
Freshman Jaret Godman was OU’s hottest arm. He struck out seven batters in 4 2/3 innings Saturday and sat down 10 of 11 batters faced to finish his night.
Godman owns a 1.86 earned-run average over his last 19 1/3 innings pitched.
In the polls
OU remained at No. 43 in the NCAA RPI rankings.
Question moving forward
Can OU’s offense win a game if it needs to?
The Sooners took small steps last week after nearly getting shut out in Friday’s game against OSU, getting timely hitting and run support over the next two games.
Saturday, Justin Mitchell came up with the walk-off hit in game two against the Cowboys. OU hung in as long as it could in the 10-7 loss Sunday.
OU did seem to have a better offensive spark. But ultimately it hit just .207 over the weekend.
“I thought our at-bats got a lot better,” Johnson said. “Brylie had a really good weekend. [Tanner] Tredaway continued to do what he’s done. I mean, there were some big offensive days to sustain rallies and do what we need to do with some stolen bases and things like that. It was really big for us for sure.”
OU travels to Texas for a 6:30 p.m. game Thursday to begin its final regular-season series.
OU weekly schedule
• Game: OU (31-20, 9-12 Big 12) at Texas (25-25, 6-14 Big 12)
• Time: 6:30 p.m.
• Place: UFCU Disch-Falk Field | Austin, Texas
• Radio: KREF 1400 am | 99.3 FM
• TV: None
• Friday: at Texas (6:30 p.m.)
• Saturday: at Texas (2:30 p.m.)
Palmateer is sports editor for for The Norman Transcript, a CNHI News Service publication.