, Muskogee, OK

June 2, 2013

Sooners showing teams why it’s not good to score on them

By Clay Horning
CNHI News Service

— OKLAHOMA CITY – The great Yogi Berra once said of the popular St. Louis eatery Ruggeri’s, “Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded.”

On the one hand, it’s ridiculous. On another, if you’re right there with Yogi, lamenting how hard it is to get a table at a previously favored restaurant, it makes perfect sense.

On that note, we now have a seemingly nonsensical line that typifies just how hard it is to beat this bunch of Sooners.

The worst thing you can do is score on them.

Yes, to win, you must score on them. But recent evidence appears to make clear it’s also the fastest way to get yourself run-ruled or blown out.

Just ask Texas, which led 2-0 after the top of the third Saturday afternoon at Hall of Fame Stadium, but trailed 6-2 after the bottom half. Or Michigan, which didn’t get run-ruled in Thursday night’s World Series opener, but led 1-0 after the top of the third, only to trail 4-1 after the bottom half.

Or Texas A&M, which belted a fourth-inning home run in Oklahoma’s super regional opener to get within 3-2, only to have the Sooners erupt for seven runs two at-bats later, making way for a 10-2 run-rule. Or Arkansas, which scored four runs in the top of the sixth inning to get within 6-5 two weekends ago at the Norman Regional, only to have the Sooners come back with four more in the bottom half to make it 10-5.

It’s ridiculous.

Confidence is one thing, but what the Sooners are doing is something else entirely.

It may be common to use an opponent’s aggressiveness against that opponent on the wrestling mat or in the secondary, but runs on the diamond?

Anyway, if you’re trying to figure out how long it will to take for OU to blow it open, just wait for the other team to make it interesting.

“I feel like we just expect our bats to come alive,” Sooner catcher Jessica Shults said. “We have a great lineup, one through nine. I feel like (the other team scoring) kind of fuels us a little bit, wakes us up a little bit and we expect to score runs.”

 Now the winners of 54 games in 58 tries, two things happen every time the Sooners take the field.

One, a chink in the armor is investigated, because the Sooners appear so dominant, there’s a compulsion to figure out how it might all go awry. Two, when it does not go awry, the search begins for a way to express such dominance that goes beyond the wash, rinse, repeat nature of the dominance they’ve displayed all season. Sometimes, it’s overwhelmingly obvious.

Because if the other team can’t score, OU’s going to have a hard time losing. And, if the other team scores or, yegads, scores first, then OU’s really not losing.

Saturday, the Sooners proved just how serious they are about having “a great lineup, one through nine.”

There are no big breathers in the order, but there are two Sooners who entered Hall of Fame Stadium batting below .300.

One is Shults, who’s gone 3 for 4 with three RBIs since Thursday night. And the other is Callie Parsons, who’s gone 3 for 6 with four RBIs and was Saturday’s hero, assuming you can have a hero in a 10-2 run-rule.

The Longhorns scored their two third-inning runs off Ricketts and even though OU had come back with a run and loaded the bases with one out in its half of the third, Texas pitcher Kim Bruins was still one strike away from getting out of the inning with the lead.

Instead, Parsons bounced a two-run single up the middle to spark what became a six-run frame. She followed it up with an RBI single in fourth.

It takes a team to dominate, but one player can make all the difference. And it makes it much easier for one player to make all the difference when any player can be that player.

“I had to do everything I needed to do to fight and find my way on,” Parsons said. “The 3-2 count (in the third inning), I was just trying to see the ball into the zone and get a good hack on it.”

It’s a simple game.

OU has figured it out.

Roll out the nation’s best pitcher, have every one of your hitters be dangerous and though you may already be the nation’s best team, be better yet when the other side shows any signs of life.

It’s a good way to go.

It may be impossible to stop.