By JOHN SHINN
NORMAN — Practice started around 3:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, but the bats were cracking at L. Dale Mitchell Park much earlier.
“We came out and worked early before practice and got a bunch of swings in,” Oklahoma third baseman Garrett Carey said. “There’s always room for improvement in this game. You can’t just relax and expect to roll out there and win. We’re cleaning up some stuff.”
The laundry needed to be done after the Sooners’ three-hit performance in Tuesday night’s 2-0 loss at Dallas Baptist.
With the exception of leadoff hitter Matt Oberste, who went 2 for 2, OU chased sliders everywhere but the strike zone throughout the game. Striking out 11 times displayed how bad OU was at the plate. The weak grounders and pop flies added to one of its worst offensive games of the season.
However, it also showed just how bad OU can look when it lacks a disciplined hitting approach. The sliders weren’t anything it hadn’t seen this season or won’t see again. OU opens a three-game series at West Virginia (27-19, 9-6) at 5:30 p.m. Friday in Charleston, W.V.
“The book on Oklahoma is too clearly pitch away and let their egos get the best of them because they’ll try to pull the ball for power. That was all that happened last night,” OU coach Sunny Golloway said. “They pitched away with fastballs and sliders and we didn’t come close. Our conscious effort has to be to use the whole yard and not be selfish about power numbers. We have to go back to what we do best.”
Golloway pointed to Oberste’s two hits as the example the Sooners have to follow. Oberste had two sharply hit singles that were back up the middle.
The adjustment has to be made, because offense will be the deciding factor in OU’s postseason success or failure. The pitching has been great all season. The Dallas Baptist game featured some of the best Sooner defense of the season. Consistently scoring runs has been the issue since February. The problem is going to be there until OU proves it can consistently scratch out five or six runs.
Was Tuesday’s loss a tipping point?
“We’re working on it today and we’re going to keep working to get better,” outfielder Max White said.
What happens in the remaining 10 games will tell the tale. The last three weekend series will likely decide if OU can win the Big 12 Conference championship. If it doesn’t, it becomes an NCAA tournament bubble team.
The easiest way to eliminate that doubt is to score runs. Tuesday night’s loss showed there’s no way to win without them.
Choplick avoids serious injury: Oklahoma pitcher Adam Choplick did not suffer a serious elbow injury in Tuesday night’s loss to Dallas Baptist. The redshirt freshman left-hander left the game in the second inning clutching his left elbow after fielding a bunt and throwing to first base.
OU coach Sunny Golloway said Choplick suffered only a muscle strain in his elbow and could pitch again this season. Choplick is 3-2 with a 4.35 ERA this season. There is no timetable for when he will return to the mound.