Overton out, Tadlock coming back to Norman
Freshman infielder Kolbey Carpenter has returned to the team after spending the past week in West, Texas, being with and helping his family and friends following the fertilizer plant explosion last week.
Carpenter has missed the last three games — a stretch OU went 3-0 against New Orleans — and returns with a .258 batting average with one home run and 14 RBIs. He’s split time mainly at first base and designated hitters and has spent some time at third base.
“I am glad he’s back,” coach Sunny Golloway said. “That’s one bright spot.”
It has not been announced if he will be in the lineup to start tonight’s game, but he was a regular starter before leaving the team.
This should be an interesting weekend at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
First, the No. 11 Oklahoma baseball team will be without what was a potential first round draft pick in junior pitcher Dillon Overton in its series against Texas Tech that starts at 6:30 tonight.
Overton is sidelined because of an elbow sprain suffered during a bullpen session Tuesday.
Overton leads the Sooners (31-10, 8-4 Big 12) with an 8-2 record and has a 2.52 ERA, so now coach Sunny Golloway will have to find a way to fill out a rotation when he’s already having problems trying to figure out a regular Sunday starter.
“I’m not sure (what I’ll do)," Golloway said. “It’s (junior pitcher) Jon (Gray), then I’m not sure.”
Golloway joked about trying to throw Gray all three games in hopes his lineup will give him an early lead, but the serious reality is he is going to have to find a Saturday and Sunday pitcher soon.
His options most likely are junior lefty Ethan Carnes, who was solid in his seven innings last Sunday, redshirt freshman lefty Adam Choplick, who had been the team’s Sunday starter for about the last two months, and freshman righty Ralph Garza Jr. Garza has made one start this year, tossing a complete game against Oral Roberts.
“We had two guys throwing really well, and we have a closer, and when one of those two guys throwing really well gets hurt … I don’t know,” Golloway said. “I’m going to have to give it some time and think about it.
“I don’t know. I’m supposed to know, but I don’t know.”
There is no set timetable for Overton’s return.
Second, this weekend marks the team’s Senior Day, although there is almost a month left in the regular season.
Following this weekend, the Sooners have 11 games before the Big 12 Tournament on their schedule — there may be one make-up game thrown in for the rained-out game against Arkansas on Tuesday — with only one midweek game in Norman.
“It’s weird; I can’t believe this is our last home weekend series already,” senior shortstop Jack Mayfield said. “It’s gone by way too fast, but we’re looking forward to it. This is going to be a big weekend.”
Winning this weekend’s series against Texas Tech (19-22, 5-10 Big 12) is big for two reasons. First, for the Sooners to separate themselves from the pack in the conference standings, and second, to putting together victories before having to play the bulk of their games away from home, Mayfield said.
“It’s really tough winning on the road,” he said. “You just never know what could happen on the road. Our main thing is trying to win the series here while we have a good shot at it with our home crowd and our home field.”
Although he’s not a senior, this most likely will be Gray’s last start at L. Dale Mitchell Park. It will be his last outing in Norman if OU does not host a regional or super regional.
Gray (7-1, 1.09 ERA) is projected to be one of the top picks in the MLB Draft in June, and he has been in contact with many of the teams with the first few picks, he said. The Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs, who have the first two picks in the draft, have contacted him the most, Gray said.
“I’ve had a lot of guys from the Cubs and Astros have come and talked to me quite a bit,” he said. “That’s a pretty good spot to be."
Two teams previously had drafted Gray. The Kansas City Royals took him in the 13th round out of high school in 2010, and the New York Yankees chose him in the 10th round in 2011 when he was pitching at East Oklahoma State College.
But with the two teams who have the top two picks in this year’s draft showing a lot of interest, it makes his return to OU unlikely.
Finally, it’s no secret there is some bad blood between these two coaching staffs.
Texas Tech coach Tim Tadlock, assistant coach Russell Raley and pitching coach Ray Hayward all used to coach at Oklahoma, with Tadlock and Raley being the most recent departures.
Tadlock joined Texas Tech’s program prior to the 2012 season and took over as head coach before this season, and Raley joined staff following the end of last season. Hayward was part of OU’s staff between 2000 and 2004.
Following last year’s series in Lubbock that the Sooners won, 2-1, Tadlock told OU’s coaching staff to “enjoy it while you can,” which did not sit well with the visiting coaches, Golloway said.
“I don’t know why (Tadlock) made that comment,” he said about facing the Big 12’s cellar dweller. “He (was) an assistant coach and made a really poor comment to me and the coaching staff. So, we’re trying to enjoy it while we can.”