OU baseball: Matt Oberste has added a dose of power in the Sooners' batting order
The former Sallisaw High star still has teammates talking of home run blasts at Big 12 Tournament
NORMAN — As recently as five weeks ago, Matt Oberste required an introduction to anyone beyond the Sooners clubhouse.
In and out of the lineup at designated hitter, unable to play the field due to a shoulder that will eventually require cleanup surgery, his role lacked definition and his name lacked recognition.
Lately, however, Oberste has been announcing himself – loud, clear and convincingly – with his bat.
In any season of long-lasting relevancy, special contributions are frequently found. While Oklahoma has ridden its stable of stout pitching during a late-season surge into this weekend's Super Regional round of the NCAA Baseball Tournament, Oberste's impact bat has added a needed power element to the lineup.
“He's a man on fire at the plate and it couldn't happen at a better time than the postseason, when it's most important,” said Sooners shortstop Caleb Bushyhead. “It's all about getting breaks and having a few things go your way.
“Matt Oberste is one thing that's going our way right now.”
And it's about time, as far as Oberste is concerned.
A former prep standout at Sallisaw High, his time at OU has been hampered by injury. He arrived from his one year at Connors State College with a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder that had been largely misdiagnosed. That robbed him of an opportunity to play the field, although his power swing remained intact.
After earning the everyday designated hitter job, a strained forearm became troublesome, costing him playing time and timing at the plate and resulting in an eventual platoon at DH.
“All year, I never knew when I was going to come in, what challenges I'd have to face,” Oberste said.
After receiving just three at-bats over a three-week stretch in April, Oberste got a start in a mid-week game at TCU, with coach Sunny Golloway looking for someone to spark a scuffling offense. Oberste went 2-for-4 that day and has barely slowed since, batting .397 with five home runs, five doubles and 12 runs batted in 18 games.
That weekend, he went 6-for-11 in the Bedlam Series, crushing a home run in OU's only win of the weekend.
He was the MVP at last weekend's Charlottesville Regional, where he hit .467 and drove in six runs, after being snubbed of the same honor the week before at the Big 12 Tournament, despite launching three home runs.
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