Know Your Opponent: Oklahoma Sooners

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Sophomore shortstop Nick Goodwin crosses home plate after hitting a home run against UC Irvine on Sunday, April 24, 2022. (Sophie Osborn | Collegian Media Group)

Kansas State baseball has been on a tear lately, winning six of eight games before losing a mid-week contest to Nebraska. The loss reminded the Wildcats of their road struggles and is something K-State will have to fix to stand a chance in Norman, Oklahoma, against the Oklahoma Sooners.

Regardless of the outcome, the three-game set could shake up conference standings. K-State sits at 3-9 in Big 12 play — eighth-place in the conference — while the Sooners sit comfortably at fifth (7-5), behind four ranked teams.

Meet the Oklahoma Sooners:

HITTING:

Offense — offense — offense. Similar to K-State, OU knows how to square up a ball and hit it a long way. The Sooners rank third for the best offense in the Big 12, recently surpassing K-State, which now sits at fourth-best.

OU bats for an average of .291, just two percentage points ahead of K-State’s .289 batting average. Four Sooners hit over that mark of .291, including Jimmy Crooks (.293 BA), Tanner Tredaway (.335 BA), Peyton Graham (.344 BA) and Blake Robertson (.386 BA).

The good news for the Wildcats is that they also have four batters hitting above OU’s team batting average, along with twice as many home runs (60), a better OPS (.871 to OU’s .845) and slugging percentage (.497 to OU’s .434).

However, OU’s hard-nosed playstyle puts them ahead in the run column for the season at 280, compared to K-State’s 262 run tally.

PITCHING:

Sooner Friday starter Jake Bennett boasts a 3.68 era with a win-loss record of 3-2, compared with K-State’s Blake Adams’s 4-4 record. Bennett has punched out 64 batters in 58.2 innings of work, which could be a problem for Wildcat hitters if they don’t work the pitch count and swing at good pitches.

OU’s Saturday starter David Sandlin totes a modest 4.99 era with an impressive 1.40 WHIP (Walks and Hits per Innings Pitched) ratio. Sandlin matches K-State’s Connor McCullough’s win-loss record of 2-2, and his hits allowed (50).

OU’s Sunday starter will likely be redshirt-sophomore Chazz Martinez, although he hasn’t thrown over 1.2 innings since April 10 against Oklahoma State, where he threw 3.2 innings. In the contest, he surrendered five earned runs, but displays a 4.34 era in 45.2 innings of work.

CONCLUSION:

It’s unclear who K-State head coach Pete Hughes will throw in Sunday’s game, but that could be the key to winning the series and is a must.

If the Wildcats want to keep their postseason dreams alive, they’ll have to win the three-game series and keep winning. However, the match-up against OU is particularly huge because the Sooners are the highest Big 12 team in standing that isn’t ranked in the top-25.

A series win could potentially move K-State into seventh in conference play or tank OU to seventh, depending on how other conference games flow.

First pitch in Norman, Oklahoma, is set for 6:30 p.m. on Friday. Viewing is limited to Bally Sports Oklahoma, while listening is available on KMAN Radio.

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