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April 26, 2013

Sooners moving on without Overton (for now)

If he hadn't already been sick the news relayed to Sunny Golloway would have made him feel queasy on even his best of days.

Oklahoma will be without All-American candidate Dillon Overton for atleast the next two weekends after junior left-handed pitcher experienced inflammation in his elbow following a normally scheduled midweek bullpen session.

Leaving Golloway at a loss for words.

"I'm going to need to quit throwing up and get time to think about it," said Golloway. "I literally have been laying on my back for three days. When I got the phone call Tuesday it probably added to it. I'm suppose to know but I don't know."

A predicament he certainly couldn't have predicted with just four Big 12 series left on the regular season schedule.

What we do know is Oklahoma (31-10, 8-4) heads into the weekend match-up versus Texas Tech (19-22, 5-10) on something of a roll offensively after stepping out of conference play scoring 38 runs over lowly New Orleans in a three game set last weekend.

"We did what we were supposed to," said Golloway. "We were suppose to win by large margins in those games and it was the first time in two years-honestly- that we had a club do that."

"There are certain games that you're suppose to win by a large margin and let other people play. And for the first time we did that for three consecutive days. Maybe the line up changes helped that? We'll see."

What could be seen was the immediate impact made atop of the Sooners line up by Matt Oberste who finished the three-game series batting .571 (8-for-14) moving three spots up from the clean up spot where he had batted for a majority of the season.

Giving help to an anemic set of Oklahoma bats that struggled mightily in consecutive weekend trips to Austin and Waco.

Bats that surely now need to stay hot without the services of Overton.

Senior Weekend ahead for Sooners

Don't feel confused if you looked at your pocket schedule and realize this weekend's bout with Texas Tech is the final home weekend series of the season.

You aren't alone nor is your trusty calendar out of date.

Five Oklahoma seniors will play their final Big 12 series this weekend at L. Dale Mitchell Park. One of those being Jack Mayfield who burst onto the scene as a true freshmen in 2010 turning his first career start into a series clinching, complete game Bedlam victory.

Three seasons later Mayfield has settled in at shortstop where he has started all 41 games.

"We're looking forward to this weekend and kind of separating ourselves from the pack," said Mayfield. "We're trying to get a good lead before we head out on the road."

For that to happen Mayfield's offensive production will need to carry over from last weekend- along with Oberste- when the shuffled line up resulted in a .417 batting average that included a pair of homeruns as well as a team-leading 8 RBIs.

A far cry from his previous 10 games when a slumping Mayfield saw his batting average fall to .210 with zero RBIs while batting in the leadoff position.

"We still have to play tough and hopefully Jon Gray goes out there again on Friday and shoves it."

As Gray has repeatedly done carrying with him a staff best 7-1 record matched with a 1.07 ERA all the while competing with Stanford's Mark Appel for the No. 1 selection in this summer's MLB Amateur Draft.

Giving good reason to think that he too will be making his final home appearance this weekend.

"I hope that we can host a regional or super regional but yeah this could be my last time to pitch here and I'm going to do everything I can and go out with a bang," said Gray.

"I'm still trying to improve every outing and hopefully end up the best I can by the end of the season."

Which has lead to a dominating campaign through his first 10 outings from a statistical standpoint earning Big 12 Pitcher of the Week honors three times, ranking third nationally in WHIP (0.97) as well as boasting a league leading 91 strikeouts (No. 3 nationally) over the course of 74.1 innings.

With the draft in the not too distant future the Chandler (Okla.) native admits he finds himself in a relatively comfortable situation these days with suitors like Houston Astros or Chicago Cubs becoming viable options in his future.

"(I've been talking to) mostly the top five picks but I've had a lot of guys from the Cubs and Astros talk to me quite a bit," laughed Gray.

"It's a good place to be."

No so friendly homecoming

For six seasons Tim Tadlock was a part of the Oklahoma baseball family as an assistant coach. Russell Raley was a 3-time All-Big 12 infielder before serving four years on the Sooners coaching staff as a volunteer assistant.

Friday evening the former Sooners return to Norman for the first time to face Oklahoma as an opponent. Tadlock in his first full seasons as the Red Raiders head coach and Raley as an assistant coach.

But it will be the words exchanged at the end of last season's series in Lubbock that Sunny Golloway remembers the most.

"It'll be interesting. (Tadlock) was a good assistant for five years and did what we asked him to do but at the end of the series (in 2012) he made the comment,' enjoy it while you can' which none of my assistants appreciated," said Golloway.

"I don't know why he made that comment. He was an assistant coach and made a really poor comment to me and the rest of my coaching staff."

Adding juice to what- on paper- appears to be a mismatch between the league leader and its last place team.

"I'm (just) trying to enjoy it while we can," said a smirking Golloway.

Former pitching coach Ray Hayward and Joe Hughes will also be making their return to Norman as they are a part of Tadlock's staff.

Quick Hits

* True freshmen Kolbey Carpenter returned to the Sooner baseball program Wednesday a week after an explosion at the West Fertilizer Co. killing as many as 14 and injured more than 200 in his hometown of West (Texas).

* Oklahoma enters this weekend ranked No. 40 in the current RPI leaving little wiggle room if the Sooners are to hold onto hopes of hosting an NCAA Regional. Of the four Big 12 regular season series left Kansas State at No. 28 in this week's RPI represents the highest ranked conference opponent.

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