Oklahoma and Oklahoma State each enter big weekend series looking up at the .500 mark in conference play. Yet, both believe things are looking up overall. And, hey, for now, such optimism isn't unreasonable. But perspective can shift suddenly, especially in the Big 12. The Cowboys, 4-5 in league play, visit Missouri for three games starting today. The Tigers are ranked No. 4 nationally after a week ago sitting at No. 2 – the highest ranking in school history. Mizzou features the Big 12's top two pitchers in Aaron Crow and Ian Berger, who are a combined 9-0 with just seven runs allowed (six earned) in 81 1/3 innings. For OSU, ranked as high as 23rd in one poll, could this be a defining weekend? "I think it's too early,” Cowboys coach Frank Anderson said. Anderson's reasoning: This will be OSU's third Big 12 road series in four weeks, courtesy of the conference computer. The Pokes will play three of their next four league series at Reynolds Stadium, before Bedlam closes the regular season. "The conference office didn't do us any favors at the start,” Anderson said. "If we kind of weather the storm and then get back home, I think we'll be fine.” OSU's bats better get going again. Overall, the Cowboys lead the league in batting average (.319), home runs (34) and slugging percentage (.521). In conference-only games, however, they're hitting just .233, scoring a league-low 20 runs in nine games. "We're pretty happy with our pitching,” Anderson said. "We haven't been perfect, but we've competed pretty well on the mound. We've played pretty good defense. "We just need to swing the bats a little better.” In Norman, they're bracing for burnt orange. "Here we go into the weekend with Texas,” said OU coach Sunny Golloway. "It'll be a big one.” Always is when the Longhorns strut into town. But big, too, because the Sooners are 2-3-1 and there may be no better time to catch Texas, despite its No. 11-ranked status. The Longhorns lost a home series to Nebraska last weekend and followed that with a setback to Rice Tuesday. This Texas team is missing something, or a lot of something, including its star of a year ago. The 'Horns still have Kyle Russell, just not the Russell who set a school record with 28 home runs a year ago. This year's Russell has been mired in a season-long slump, batting .230 with one homer and eight RBIs through 27 games. Still, it's Texas. And it's a Texas squad with four players listed among Baseball America's Top 88 college prospects and Augie Garrido, college baseball's winningest coach, at helm. "It's a scary Texas club,” Golloway said. "They've got a lot of talent.” The Sooners are still refining their own talent, evaluating on the fly with new starters in seven of the eight everyday spots and all three weekend rotation spots on the pitching side. So far, so-so good. The Sooners are 21-8-1. "We're not going to have any excuses here,” Golloway said. "New faces, but it's Oklahoma baseball and you should be able to put talent on the field and compete. "And we've done that.” Maybe things are looking up for the Sooners and Cowboys. The optimism isn't unreasonable. Yet for proper perspective, check back. It may only take a few days.
Sunny Golloway's OU baseball team plays host to Texas this weekend. The Oklahoman archive