OU baseball: Confidence carrying Sooners into Super Regionals
vs. South Carolina at 7 p.m. Saturday
The OU baseball team may be the underdog this weekend against the No. 6 team in the nation, but the Sooners said their confidence level is right where it should be.
Oklahoma (42-23) will play South Carolina (43-17) in a best-of-three Super Regional starting at 7 p.m. Saturday in Columbia, S.C.
"You look at our history here at Oklahoma: the two national titles and the many postseason appearances — we just expect to be in the postseason," senior shortstop Caleb Bushyhead said. "We expect to play, we expect to win and we are just currently playing our best ball right now."
After the Sooners finished with a 13-10 record in conference play, the team looked like it would have a fast exit from the 2012 season. But after a surprising run to the Big 12 title game and fighting back through the loser's bracket to win the Charlottesville Regional, OU finds itself two wins away from the College World Series.
Wile this is just Oklahoma's third Super Regional appearance in program history, the Sooners haven't let the excitement get in the way of conducting business as usual, junior second baseman Jack Mayfield said.
"Coach (Sunny Golloway) has talked all year about going out in practice and learning something every day, and I feel like this team has done that because we're now heading to South Carolina," Mayfield said.
The Gamecocks are a worthy adversary in this year's NCAA tournament, coming into the series with a record 19 consecutive postseason wins after winning back-to-back national titles in 2010 and 2011.
And getting a chance to face the two-time champions isn't the only reason the Sooners said they are excited to play this weekend.
"Clearly we're ecstatic about going to play South Carolina because it's a big time SEC school that has 19 straight postseasons wins," Bushyhead said. "But their last loss was to Oklahoma, so that's a big deal to us."
When the two teams previously met in the 2010 College World Series, Bushyhead had one of his most successful offense performances against the Gamecocks, going 2-for-3 while picking up two RBIs in OU's 4-3 victory.
Bushyhead's past success against South Carolina — combined with his increased maturity since the last time these two programs met — not only helps build positive momentum during the senior's last postseason in a crimson uniform, it also boosts Golloway's confidence level.
"I asked him about former OU shortstops and how he wanted to be remembered," Golloway said. "If he wants to be remembered as one of the greats, he has a chance to do something great this weekend."
And one thing the Sooners are relying on to do great things is maintaining the will to win — something Bushyhead said the team embraced after opening the NCAA tournament with a loss to Appalachian State.
"After the loss, (Golloway) said no one could hang with us and the depth we have pitching-wise, so if we could just go out there, swing the bat and catch a couple of breaks, we would be regional champs," Bushyhead said.
"And sure enough, we did that and now our confidence is carrying over with us into South Carolina."