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OU baseball: Sooners miss NCAA Tournament berth

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Tyler Hardman

Sophomore first baseman Tyler Hardman prepares to tag a runner during the game against Texas May 17.

The mighty fall has reached its lowest trough.

After a 21-4 start to the season, the Sooners finished the year 12-19 and failed to clinch a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2016.

Following a sweep over Kansas on March 22-24, the Sooners jumped up to No. 22 in the nation in D1Baseball’s weekly top 25 rankings. It looked as if hosting a regional — a feat the Sooners have not accomplished since 2010— was a real possibility.

Even after weeks of up-and-down play in the Big 12, the Sooners were still a lock for a No. 2 seed in regional play up until the Texas Tech series on May 3-5. But the sweep against Tech, a series loss in Bedlam and an early exit in the Big 12 Tournament with two blowout losses ultimately kept the Sooners out of a regional.

The 15-3 mercy-rule loss to close out Oklahoma’s fate will certainly sting as the days get hotter and the sun continues to beat down in Norman. The 14-run collapse in the fourth inning that led to the loss set multiple Big 12 Tournament records.

But Skip Johnson is expected to return for his third season in 2020, and all but 2019 seniors Brylie Ware, Blake Brewster and Ryan Madden are expected to come back as well. The hole left at third base with Ware leaving will be tough to fill, but the outfield, starting rotation and bullpen will mostly consist of the same players next spring.

A sign that says “Oklahomaha” sits in the Oklahoma dugout at L. Dale Mitchell Park. Many more are dispersed throughout the clubhouse almost as a reminder to players and coaches of the goal to make it back to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska, for the first time since 2010. In 2020, the goal will be no different.

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