Oklahoma ended its regular season with a thud, losing nine of its last 12 games.
Over that stretch, the Sooners lost two games at West Virginia, two games to Oklahoma State and two games at Big 12 regular-season champion Kansas State.
But after Saturday's 7-6, 11-inning victory over K-State, Oklahoma enters Sunday's Big 12 Tournament title game on a three-game winning streak.
“We've been trying to fix a couple little things,” said OU coach Sunny Golloway. ‘We're finally becoming a complete team. We're a better team right now than we have been all year.
“But we were not a bad team ... that just becomes the perception.”
COWBOYS LEFT WITH REGRETS
OSU left the tournament at 0-3, after leading in all three games in the sixth inning or later.
So there were plenty of regrets, including Saturday, when West Virginia committed five errors and managed just eight hits, yet won 6-5 in 10 innings.
“I think anytime the other team makes five errors — what did we have, 10 hits? — you'd like to think you could come out on the plus side of the ledger,” said Cowboys coach Josh Holliday. “It's really a credit to them, to be honest with you. They bounced back.”
OSU left 10 men on base and hit into three double plays, foiling their chances at big innings.
“We were close,” Holliday said. “One more swing of the bat might have been that final straw. But they wouldn't go away and we didn't do the necessary things to put them down either.”
WILDCATS STILL HOPING TO HOST
Kansas State entered the Big 12 Tournament in the mix to host an NCAA Tournament regional.
And the Wildcats hope that Saturday's loss to the Sooners don't damage their hopes.
“It's out of our hands,” said K-State coach Brad Hill. “I maybe shouldn't have said anything yesterday about thinking we should host, but it's good for my team. I think we've had a heck of a year. I think the Big 12 champion should be a host of a regional, personally.
“Our league is good — very good — and I would think we would deserve that opportunity for going through the Big 12 when weekend to weekend is just a battle. Then we come win a couple games down here.”
The Wildcats, holding a No. 18 RPI, are securely in the tournament, which represents something after a sub-. 500 season a year ago. So Monday's Road to Omaha selection show will be fun, either way.
“I'm glad that we get to watch it this year,” said K-State second baseman Ross Kivett. “We'll be together and hopefully it works out in our favor, but we just want to play and we're going to play hard every day.
“I don't think we're too concerned about things we can't control right now.”
WVU'S RICE ENJOYS ‘COOL' MOMENT
Jacob Rice drove in one run against Oklahoma State. The big one — an RBI single that came in the bottom of the 10th inning and scored the game-winning run for West Virginia.
“I love that situation,” said Rice, a Tulsa Union product.
The Mountaineers left fielder said that every kid dreams of being in that spot. And with a runner on second and facing a 1-2 count, Rice drilled a pitch from Brendan McCurry to right field and Bobby Boyd raced home to score.
“I've got a lot of family here,” Rice said. “It's great to play in front of them. It's pretty cool.”
BAYLOR FINISHES ROUGH SEASON
A few days before Baylor's first game, expected opening day starting pitcher Brad Kuntz was lost for the season with a back injury.
The rough year ended with Saturday's 8-2 Big 12 Tournament loss to Texas Tech. Baylor (27-28) lost eight of its last 10 games, including all three of its Big 12 tourney contests this week.
“When your season starts and the week before the first game, your (opening) night guy has two broken bones in his back, that's not a good way to start,” said Bears coach Steve Smith.
“Been trying to piece it together, and I think we did a decent job of that. We weren't very good this year on the road, particularly in the league.”
Baylor was briefly in first place in the Big 12 standings midway through April after taking two of three games in their home series with Oklahoma, but lost went 8-11 the rest of the year.
OU'S ALSPAUGH MAKES PRESENCE KNOWN
It's not that Kansas State couldn't get hits through the first eight innings, but that the Wildcats couldn't manage any timely hits against Oklahoma.
Still, it looked like Kansas State had finally broken through in the seventh when Shane Conlon ripped a ball into deep right field after the Wildcats got the first two runners aboard in the inning.
Except Taylor Alspaugh, who had started just two games coming into the tournament, chased down Conlon's drive just as he hit the wall to likely save two runs.
Kindle Ladd forced the next batter to ground into a double play to end the threat.
“How about that catch out there?” Golloway said. “I'm going to go back and watch it on the highlights. I didn't see it. I got blocked. That ball was crushed.”
Alspaugh was elevated into the starting lineup recently when Hunter Haley went down high a high-ankle sprain.
Golloway on Kansas State, which now awaits its NCAA fate after losing Saturday to the Sooners: “The last thing I want is that loss — which I don't think it will — to shake them. Because at this point, once we leave this tournament, we want everybody in the conference to do really well. We want representation down the road, Super Regionals. We've got to get back to Omaha.”