Better Know a Super Regional: Oklahoma Sooners

Get your Adderall-themed signs ready. - Kyle Laferriere-US PRESSWIRE

Now, we're paying attention.

Oh, sure. Now, everybody wants to write a baseball preview. Where were y'all when I was writing about mid-week games in Cyrillic? It's Super Regional time, when the baseball fandom gets turned up all over the country. It's not place to judge those who put it in a cruise control during the regular season and don't really turn on the juice until June. I understand. But let's just say we better not see any no-shows this weekend. This is, obviously, the biggest series of the year.

Oklahoma Sooners

Record: 40-19 (13-11), tied for 3rd in Big 12
RS/RA: 350/228
RPI: 27
ISR: 22

Odds of Winning Supers: 7.0%*

*According to boydsworld.com ISR-Based Probabilities


Oklahoma can pitch. They have a team ERA below three, and they have an impressive one-two punch at the top of the rotation. What they can't really do is hit. The Sooners average under six runs a game, and the reason they scuttled to a .500 record in conference play despite such a powerful rotation is that their offense cannot be counted on to score runs. They are always a threat thanks to that rotation, but there's a reason they were sent to Blacksburg as a 2-seed. On paper, this team is completely overmatched by LSU... but so was Stony Brook.

Ancient Logo:

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via content.sportslogos.net

Can I just say that I love the Sooner Schooner? It's sort of perfect.

Notable Alumni:

Mookie Blaylock (near namesake of Pearl Jam)
Keith Jackson (no, not that one, the tight end)
Darrell Royal (U. of Texas double agent)
Ed Harris (four time Academy Award nominee... no wins)
Olivia Munn (actress, model, and author of Suck It, Wonder Woman)
James Garner (Maverick, The Rockford Files)
Dick Armey (former House Majority Leader)
Clayton Bennett (murdered the Seattle Sonics)
Roy Furr (founder of Furr's cafeteria stores)
Fred Haise (Apollo 13 astronaut)
John Morris (anti-evolution activist)
Helen Walton (widow of Sam Walton)
Adnan Badran (former prime minister of Jordan)

I feel it is important to note that Toby Keith is NOT an alum. He attended Villanova, which is in Philadelphia.

Pretentious Music Video:

Many people believe that Oklahoma has no culture, and that the state is a barren wasteland that just serves as empty space between Texas and Kansas. And let's face it, when you're considered less interesting than Kansas, you have some image issues. These people are wrong of course, as Oklahoma has a proud culture of, um, er, that thing. And that other thing. Did I mention they aren't entirely to blame for Toby Keith? Anyway, there is a snotty, pretentious band from Oklahoma: the Flaming Lips. The Lips put on a pretty great live show, which is really just a giant party to distract you from the fact that the Lips' material is pretty uneven. But I like fun, and I whole heartedly endorse a band that fully embraces the concept of fun. I hope the good people have Oklahoma need some cheering up come Sunday morning. Let's kick it old school, back when grunge was king and LSU was winning the national title every other year. Flaming Lips: She Don't Like Jelly.


Starters:

RHP Jonathan Gray 10-2, 1.59 ERA, 119 IP, 138/22 K/BB
LHP Dillon Overton 9-2, 2.91 ERA, 86.2 IP, 76/22 K/BB
LHP Jake Fisher 3-2, 2.53 ERA, 53.1 IP, 50/14 K/BB

Gray is the headliner, of course. He's a fantastic pitcher and he's going to be a fairly rich man in a few months. Any time a guy is striking out over 10 batters every 9 innings, you really don't need me to tell you he is great. Gray throws it hard, and he also has two other Major League level pitches in his changeup and slider. He probably developed those just because he got bored with simply blowing fastballs past people. He's known as a bit of a slow starter, but that's quibbling. The guy is a stud, and OU's dream of winning this weekend is keyed on him winning on Friday. It's not like Overton is some slouch. He's also an excellent pitcher, and Fisher has been a big late season emergence who has solidified the rotation. There's been talk that OU would have to scuffle for a Sunday starter, but don't believe it. Fisher's the guy, and he's been effective in May as a starter. The bullpen lacks depth, but that is a minor complaint. The Sooners have one of the best staffs LSU has faced all year. It's not quite Arkansas good, as I think the Hogs had more depth, but Gray is the single best pitcher LSU will face all season.

Except maybe when they face Aaron Nola in practice.

Sluggers:

1B Matt Oberste 376/457/624
CF Max White 313/375/414
3B Garrett Carey 281/351/399

I don't want to say the offense is bad, but it's certainly not going to keep you up at night, worried how you are gonna stop it. Oberste is a legitimate stud in the middle of the order, and White is the kind of solid, all-around hitter who will drive you nuts and be a tough out, but this team struggles to put up the crooked numbers. The Sooners hit 286/362/398, and there's good balance to the order. Almost everybody can get on and can run a little bit, except Carey who is more of a classic slugger. The Sooners do love to bunt and run, though. They had 75 sacrifice hits and 92 steal attempts (60 of them successful). That's a lot of guys in motion and a lot of over-managing. The Sooners sacrificed 107 outs this year to gain 135 bases. I think that's a pretty lousy trade, but it's worked for them so far. The key here is that when OU wants to give you outs, you have to take them. Given LSU's usually defensive efficiency, I'm not too worried unless we see a return of the Sam Houston game. This is a team whose offensive strategy dovetails right into LSU's strengths: make defensive plays.

Tiger Bait?

It's baseball and anyone can beat anyone on a given weekend. LSU learned that lesson the hard way last year in the Supers. But there's a few things different between this OU series and last year. One, LSU probably overlooked the series last year and took it for granted, something that will not happen this time. I think everyone is super focused on this one. Two, the weather played a huge factor and wreaked havoc on the LSU rotation. That could happen again, you never know in Louisiana, but LSU has much better pitching depth this year and OU would be hurt far more by "wasting" a starter in a rain shortened start. Three, that Stony Brook team might have been better than this OU team, especially on offense. Finally, and most importantly, this LSU team is much, much better. JaCoby Jones has finally blossomed into the talent his potential hinted at, and Bregman and Ibarra are freshmen studs that weren't even here last year. The outfield is almost entirely different, and it is loaded. LSU is out to prove something, which is not good for the rest of the country. This is arguably the best LSU team of all time, but it can't be considered for that mythical title unless it wins a title in Omaha. That continues with a win here. Anything can happen, but most probably, LSU rolls.

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