While the Cowboys have had somewhat-characteristically odd struggles against Tuesday night’s opponent Oral Roberts, Josh Holliday’s club extended their conference lead to 3 games after a sweep of Oklahoma.
Meanwhile, the rest of the conference has done OSU a favor by infighting. Despite Texas Tech’s high national ranking, or TCU’s early preseason expectations, there has not been one dominant force in the Big 12 outside of Oklahoma State. Texas has emerged as a contender, but still must be wildly good down the stretch to steal the first place spot.
The Pokes still have a series against Iowa, Baylor, and Texas Tech upcoming; the Bears are streaking, and the Red Raiders are always a dangerous program. But things are looking up. For the Pokes to slip from first place, Texas would have to go 6-0, and the Pokes would have to go 3-3 in the last two conference series. Odds are that OSU will be the Big 12 Conference Champs.
Let’s take a quick refresher course on the NCAA baseball playoffs; how do these things work, anyway? The first round of playoffs, the regionals, occurs at 16 different sites across the country, where 64 teams compete in 4 team pairings. The winners of that regional double-elimination matchup move onto the super regionals, where they compete for a spot in the College World Series.
The first 8 teams are considered National Seeds, and last 8 teams are At-Large teams. In this way, the best 16 teams in the country are rewarded by hosting the regionals—a huge leg up in the offseason.
Right now, the authority on NCAA baseball, D1baseball.com, has projected Oklahoma State as an At-Large seed, hosting Oral Roberts, Missouri and Houston in Stillwater. This would be the first time the Cowboys hosted in the postseason since 2014, the year in which OSU won the Big 12 and finished the season ranked 10th nationally.
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.
An acknowledgement of the oddity of this season is necessary. 2018 seemed to almost be a wash early in the season. Josh Holliday’s ball club lost 4 integral pieces of the pitching staff to early season injuries, and had to adjust by moving closer Carson Teel to a starting position, along with some other on-the-fly adjustments.
Even stranger, statistically, the Cowboys are... not good. While going 15-3 in conference with 4 sweeps of conference opponents and a 3 game lead, the pitching staff is 7th in ERA. And quirkiest of all, OSU is dead last in batting average in conference. But home runs have elevated the Pokes to a level of dominance that is almost unparalleled. Second in the Big 12 with 46 bombs, the Pokes beat OU by an absolutely absurd margin, and will continue to dominate if given the opportunity to jump the yard.
Essentially, there’s nothing left to do except accept that this ball club, with its paradoxical nature and statistical atrocities is just really good. It’s tough to put your finger on why, but they just are. They win ball games, and that’s all that really matters.
There’s 6 conference games left. A series at Baylor, and a three game weekend against the Red Raiders in Stillwater. A sweep or even a series win against Texas Tech essentially ensures a Stillwater regional.