By JOHN SHINN
NORMAN — The last day at the ballpark turned out to be a long and costly day for Oklahoma. The cost it paid was a 12-spot drop in the Ratings Percentage Index to No. 34 after being swept by Arkansas-Little Rock.
The lengthy day was extended by an hour-long meeting OU coach Sunny Golloway had with his players after the game.
“Tuesday was, in 21 years of college baseball, the most disappointing professional day I’ve spent on the yard,” Golloway said. “The simple reason was: we didn’t just play one game, we played two. We didn’t regroup … It was crushing to our RPI.”
The losses left the Sooners (28-10) in the spot many teams are at this points in the season. With only five weekend series left, they’re studying how those games will affect their status for the NCAA tournament.
The losses to Arkansas-Little Rock won’t prevent OU from playing in June. After all, it's still atop the Big 12 Conference standings. However, the margin for error when it comes to hosting a regional got a lot thinner.
The importance of the remaining 18 games were the center of the lengthy discussion Tuesday night.
“After that long chat, we know where we stand and what we need to do,” right fielder Max White said.
OU opens a three-game series against New Orleans (6-34) at 6:30 p.m. tonight at L. Dale Mitchell Park. New Orleans is No. 273 in the RPI. OU could sweep the series in three routs, and the Sooners would likely fall a couple spots.
The series is one OU is playing because the Big 12 schedule requires all teams to have an off weekend in either April or May. Most programs don’t want to play an out-of-conference series once their conference schedules have started. New Orleans is an independent and therefore has weekend series to fill. Nonetheless, OU has to treat this series with the utmost importance. They’ve lost three of their last four games — dating back to the loss at Baylor last Sunday that cost the Sooners their first conference series of the season.
Clearly, the Sooners are in a slump. They went 0 for 15 with runners in scoring position against Arkansas-Little Rock. That falls into a season-long issue OU has had scoring runs. Its averaging 5.4 runs per game, but has scored four runs or less in the 12 of the last 15 games.
“Most teams are going to go through streaks like this every single season,” OU pitcher Dillon Overton said. “How they react to it determines if they’re able to snap back out of it.”
The Sooners’ predicament seems to occur almost annually. Sometime in April they hit a lull. It’s typically followed by a meeting where Golloway challenges his team and they come up with a number of wins they need to close out the season that will likely secure the NCAA tournament position they believe they can obtain. Golloway was having that talk with his team before Thursday’s practice.
“It’s a wake-up call,” Golloway said. “We’ve been knocked down. Now, we have to learn to get off the canvas and make an adjustment.”