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February 19, 2013It wasn't the fact his team had just finished off a four-game sweep of Hofstra. Racking up wins over the Colonial Athletic Association member was expected on opening weekend.
Nor was it even the fact that Matt Oberste's three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth sent Oklahoma (4-0) to their second consecutive walk-off victory in as many days.
Sunny Golloway was proud because of the fact that his squad's grit had been tested over the opening four-game set in a pair of one run victories. Eight of the 10 true freshmen on the Sooners opening day roster had logged playing time.
Runs had been manufactured over the course of the weekend.
"I was really proud of the way we manufactured runs better today. We're going to have to do that to win the Big 12," said Golloway following the Sooners 7-4 walk-off Sunday victory.
Oberste, a Sallisaw native, lead Oklahoma at the plate through the four-game set driving in nine runs and recording a team-high 12 total bases (leads Big 12 in both categories). His biggest swing of the young season coming on a 1-0 fastball to the right-handed clean up hitter in the bottom of the ninth of Sunday's finale.
"I was just trying to get a base hit the other way and he gave me a good pitch," said Oberste, who went 1-for-4 with 4 RBIs. "Last year I had a few that (at-bats) I was kind of nervous on because I had just gotten here but I was trying to look for a pitch early and glad I could get it done."
More importantly was the fact that the ball landed over the right fence rather than the left field fence. Reason enough to please his coaching staff.
"I was really proud. The most important part about what (Oberste) did was they weren't going to give him a pitch middle-in with the wind blowing out and he ends up hitting the ball the other way," said Golloway.
"I think Rich Hills as our hitting coach is doing a great job with our hitters. A lot of preparation goes into getting our guys ready to play and to get our guys better. They need to understand the Oklahoma way of doing things."
Which is, and will continue to be, a constant process. 16 of the 26 players that saw action in the Sooners first 4 games were doing so at the Division I level for the first time.
Around the Oklahoma clubhouse patience is more than just a virtue.
Golloway refers to it as: kaizen.
"That's improvement in small increments over a long period of time," Golloway said. "There's a lot of different ways to win and we were pushed to the limit in a lot of different areas."
"There's going to be some mistakes made. We try to use a lot of timeouts, a lot of mound visits, and try to talk to them about certain things and fight for them."
"Even our veterans are playing a new position. (Oberste) wasn't at first base. Max White wasn't at right field. Mayfield wasn't at shortstop. You've got freshmen out there all over the place on the diamond."
Through the first weekend of the season that mix of young, energetic players and veteran leadership paid off.
"We kept our heads straight and the leadership and experience really pulled us through this one," said senior co-captain Max White. "We won every game in every possible way. We beat them pretty good, then we won one we had to close them off, and then came back for a win. That's every way in baseball you can win."
Copping slides into weekend rotation
Following an impressive college debut from one of their freshmen arms Oklahoma will make a change to their weekend rotation as they move into the second weekend of the season.
True freshmen Corey Copping in. Billy Waltrip out.
Retiring the final 10 batters he faced Sunday Copping worked himself out of a pair of small jams after visits from Golloway and pitching coach Jack Giese.
"I'm proud of myself. First game as a freshmen and the environment was great," said Copping. "It was a lot different than high school. I was just glad I was going to be able to start and I thought I did really good."
Copping, a Temple City (Calif.) product, pitched seven strong innings before exiting with a 4-1 lead. Despite walking away with a no decision it was his calmness on the mound that really impressed his head coach.
"He had 95 pitches after 7 innings and coach (Jack) Giese wanted to send him back out there and I had to put the breaks on that," said Golloway. "Billy has got to earn that spot back in there and he'll try to do that but the freshmen is pretty special."
Oveton, Oberste honored by Big 12
For the first time since 2009 Oklahoma swept Player and Pitcher of the Week honors.
Oklahoma junior left hander Dillon Oveton was named the conference's Pitcher of the Week following his first start of the season in which he struckout seven over seven innings. The 10-4 opening day victory improved Oveton's career record as a Sooner starter to 15-7.
The Weatherford (Okla.) native adds the weekly honor to a long list of preseason accolades that included being selected to the 2013 Preseason Golden Spkes Watch List as well as being named as a preseason All-American by both Collegiate Baseball and Baseball America.
It is the second time in his career he has earned Pitcher of the Week honors.
Junior infielder Matt Oberste was selected as the conferences Player of the Week after hitting .429 from the right side of the plate- including a double, a triple and a walk-off home run.
The Sallisaw native also served as a catalyst in the Sooners Saturday night come from behind victory delivering a two-out, two run single that sent the game to extra innings.
Through the first week of the season Oberste leads the conference in RBIs (9) and total bases (12).
It is the first time he has been named Player of the Week by the conference.
Oklahoma's series against Arkansas Pine Bluff has been rescheduled as a doubleheader Tuesday at L. Dale Mitchell Park due to impeding rain in the forecast Wednesday.
First pitch of game one of the doubleheader is slated for 3 p.m. Game two will begin 30 minutes following the conclusion of game one.
Game one of the doubleheader can be seen live on Fox Sports Oklahoma, with the second contest being carried online at SoonerSports.tv.