Lately, the Cowboys have been doing just that, taking three straight Big 12 series and winning 12 of their last 15 overall to rise from beyond 100 to No. 34 in the RPI, strengthening their case for an NCAA Tournament bid.
“They've been gritty,” said OSU coach Josh Holliday. “We haven't always been perfect and we haven't always been pretty. But boy they have competed hard. That's all we've asked of them.
“We knew we'd grow as time went on and as we got better and more skilled and healthy. I'm really proud of these guys.”
The Sooners haven't played as sharp, losing 12 of their last 22 and dropping two straight Big 12 series. Still, the conference championship is within their grasp. And with Dillon Overton back in the rotation after missing two weeks with an arm injury, OU's pitching strength is again in play.
Down to No. 45 in the RPI, the Sooners may need to reinforce their résumé to gain an NCAA Tournament spot.
“With our arms and our team and our toughness, I think we could go a long way,” said Sooners coach Sunny Golloway.
And not just the Sooners, Golloway said. With K-State, OU and OSU all in the rankings and a high-stakes Big 12 Tournament coming up next week, the Big 12 is making a late rebound toward relevance.
“Everyone wants to talk about how our league is down,” Golloway said, “but don't be surprised if somebody is in Omaha at the end of the road.”