OU baseball: Sooners' season depends on pitcher's success
Astrud Reed, The Oklahoma Daily
The No. 23 baseball team’s biggest strength coming into the season was its starting pitching, especially the one-two combination of juniors Dillon Overton and Jonathan Gray.
The two have not disappointed.
They have combined for a 7-2 record, 56 2/3 innings, 57 strikeouts and 15 walks. Also, both starters have ERAs less than 3.50 — 2.03 for Gray and 3.30 for Overton.
While this team may live or die on how well the Friday and Saturday starters perform, it will only go as far as its secondary hurlers — the Sunday starter and key bullpen members — pitch.
As a whole, OU’s pitching staff has a 3.43 ERA while posting an almost three-to-one strikeouts-to-walks ratio — it has recorded 143 strikeouts while walking just 52 batters in 144 1/3 innings.
Those are not horrible stats, especially considering OU has six pitchers who have ERAs greater than five, including one pitcher — junior transfer Billy Waltrip — who has worked his ERA down almost 10 points since making his first appearance Feb. 16. Otherwise, the Sooners have used eight pitchers — who all have thrown at least four innings — with ERAs less than 3.50.
A few pitchers — Sunday starter freshman Adam Choplick, freshman reliever Jacob Evans, Waltrip and sophomore closer Robert Tasin — have cemented their spots as coach Sunny Golloway’s go-to guys in certain roles during the weekend. That means midweek games, like this two-game series against New Mexico State at 6:30 tonight at L. Dale Mitchell Park, are the time for some of the other pitchers to earn their roles, especially before the team starts its conference schedule March 22.
Although Golloway has not announced a starter for tonight or Wednesday night’s games, he has a myriad of options from which to choose.
And the pitchers the Sooners send to the mound this weekend — although that could be one of the weekend starters at one point just to get a bullpen session in — cannot afford to struggle.
They not only cannot afford a poor midweek outing this close to the start of conference play, the team cannot afford many more midweek losses, especially against middle-tier teams.
Oklahoma has a 2-1 record in midweek game, with its last one being a 6-1 loss against UT Arlington last Tuesday in Arlington, Texas. The Sooners are nowhere near done with their midweek schedule, but they have to pick up the pace so their record and RPI do not take too much of a hit once the tournament comes around.
Now is the time for some of these pitchers who are used mainly during midweek games to step up, not only for their own good, but so the team does not have to travel too far during the postseason.
Jono Greco is a journalism graduate student and is the assistant sports editor.