Like poor offense and lots of inexperience? You're in luck!
Texas baseball begins conference play in Norman this week under .500 for the first time in a long time. The good news is that Texas has dominated Oklahoma baseball in recent years, with recent years being defined as nearly the entire history of the Big 12. The bad news is that the #22 ranked Sooners are one of the tougher teams in this year's brutally bad conference.
What do we know about the Sooners? Well, their starting pitchers hasn't been stupendous, with only Friday starter Dillon Overton hitting an ERA under 3.00. The other two starters post ERAs in near 5.00 and batting averages against above .250 each. The Sooners have been known in recent years to pound the baseball, especially against inferior pitching. A year ago the Sooners hit .313 as a team, but this year the team average is down to .281. Freshman catcher Hunter Lockwood has provided the majority of the power, hitting five HRs in just 17 collegiate games, but Lockwood also has 23 strikeouts to go with only four walks.
What stands out about the Sooners is their schedule strength rated 148 by Boyd's World (by comparison the Horns have played the nation's 12th toughest schedule). The only series against a team with a pulse the Sooners have played was a road series loss to Pepperdine to start the year. The Sooners also have losses to UT-Arlington (like Texas), UCONN (bad loss) and Oregon State (a pretty good squad) with one quality win against #17 Oregon last weekend. OU is coming off a bad loss to Dallas Baptist (who the Horns beat on March 6th) in which Oklahoma blew a 6-3 lead in the 9th.
Some comments about Texas after the jump.
Freshmen Ricky Jacquez and Parker French will hope to build off of solid starts by each this past week. Hoby Milner has been moved to the pen in order to give Texas another lefty there, so hopefully Jacquez and French can take advantage of the opportunity. In the field, Alex Silver appears to have solidified his role as the starting first baseman and Kevin Lusson will hopefully begin contributing his bat as the DH. If that happens then we may have a Texas team that can challenge for the conference crown. If not, we may have a Texas team that will struggle to make the postseason (to say nothing of hosting a regional).
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS
Friday, March 16, 2012 – 6:30 p.m. Central
Texas: RHP Nathan Thornhill (2-1, 2.73 ERA)
Oklahoma: LHP Dillon Overton (3-0, 2.84 ERA)
Saturday, March 17, 2012 – 2 p.m. Central
Texas: RHP Ricky Jacquez (1-1, 4.50 ERA)
Oklahoma: RHP Jonathan Gray (2-2, 4.98 ERA)
Sunday, March 18, 2012 - 1 p.m. Central
Texas: Parker French (2-0, 2.95 ERA)
Oklahoma: LHP Steven Okert (2-1, 4.78 ERA)