NORMAN — Oklahoma baseball coach Sunny Golloway gathered his players Saturday morning, asked if they knew the significance of what happened the night before and silently waited for an answer.
When none of his players provided one, Golloway revealed the bad news: For the first time all season, Oklahoma wasn't atop the Big 12 Conference standings.
Saturday afternoon's 14-5 rout of hapless, nonconference foe New Orleans at L. Dale Mitchell Park did nothing to remedy that — although TCU's win over Baylor allowed OU to at least temporarily reclaim Big 12 supremacy — but OU continued to build momentum at the plate after a rough stretch of games with low offensive output.
Oklahoma (30-10 overall, 8-4 Big 12) can complete a three-game sweep of New Orleans (6-35) when the teams meet again at 1 p.m.
“I think our guys are playing with confidence right now,” Golloway said. “The conference can kind of steal that from you at times, so maybe the bye week is coming at the right time for us to try to get a little bit of confidence back. We haven't been able to score many runs, that's not a secret.”
Oklahoma's recent struggles at the plate have made the goal of winning its first regular-season conference title since 1995 much more difficult.
A March 30 home loss to Kansas began a difficult nine-game run, during which OU lost six contests, including Arkansas-Little Rock's doubleheader sweep Tuesday in Norman.
“Tuesday was a tremendous blow to us,” Golloway said. “It was the worst professional day that I've had on the yard. Without a doubt.”
The embarrassing losses caused Golloway to tinker with his lineup, moving clean-up hitter Matt Oberste to the top of the lineup, and former leadoff man Jack Mayfield to the bottom. In two games since the shakeup, OU has scored 24 runs, with Mayfield hitting 3 for 6 with six RBIs and a home run.
“When you get stuck, things weren't going our way, so moving things around and starting off new was good,” said senior Max White, who was 4 for 5 with a home run and 2 RBIs Saturday.
Oklahoma scored at least one run in each of the first seven innings Saturday, and 10 of the Sooners' season-high 19 hits were extra-base hits.
After the New Orleans series, OU travels Tuesday to meet Arkansas in another nonconference game, then resumes Big 12 play at home next weekend in a three-game series with Texas Tech.
“It's good to get these hits and get the ball rolling,” White said. “We've got to. We've got a good chance to win the Big 12 championship, so we've gotta work hard and get that momentum back."