Captains are supposed to lead their team to victory when their team needs late-season wins…
Last year, OU jumped out of the gates to a 20-2 record. That included wins in the first five games before the Sooners' first setback, followed up with a 10-game winning streak before their second loss. Three more victories capped off that furious start. But things got rocky in between. The Sooners went through a 7-9 stretch, even going 5-8 at one point, which included a series sweep at home at the hands of then-No. 7 Texas and a series loss at unranked Texas Tech, with a few other losses mixed in between. It appeared things were headed downhill. But the Sooners got things back on track and after yet another devastating loss, a 4-3 decision to Memphis at home on May 14, they put it in cruise control. OU won nine of its next 10 as part of a 20-6 finish that culminated in the 540-mile trip to the Men's College World Series in Omaha. This year, the trend appears much the same. OU surged out to its best start in school history at 16-0 and stood as the No. 2 team in the nation. However, the Sooners couldn't sustain it and suffered a 10-11 stretch that sent them as low as No. 18 in one poll. Since then, they have righted the ship and won 13 of 15, including a current nine game winning streak. "Well, I think sometimes, I think you try to coach it up all the time and I think a strong start is very important to a college season," said OU head coach Sunny Golloway. "I think a strong finish is very important, and you would hope that you would have a consistent bunch that could play well all year long and some teams have that." It hasn't quite been the case for OU as it has for some others. "You know, Virginia has shown that, Vanderbilt for the most part, teams that are ranked in the top five," Golloway said. "We were clearly a No. 2 team in the country at one point. Now, we're back, you know, depending what you look at, seven through 12. So, we've stumbled." But the important thing is they've responded and all signs are they've come together as a unit in time to roll down the stretch. It seems like this corps group of guys, including senior ace Michael Rocha, junior first baseman Cameron Seitzer, junior third baseman Garrett Buechele and the others, just have it in their blood to do that. "We haven't been as strong in the middle, but our program has always finished very strong," Golloway said. "We've always played well late in the year. We haven't played well enough to get to Omaha consistently, and we're hoping to do that. But I do think this bunch gets it maybe a little better than some in the past. "And we're always very conscientious of the outstanding players we've had and the respect that we have for all of our players. But this bunch might get it a little bit more, and they can clearly write a page in history on back-to-back years if they choose to do so." With OU's good pitching and recent timely hitting, there's no major reason to believe that can't happen. "I definitely see a lot of things going right for us now," Rocha said. "A lot of things are getting fixed, and I can see us pretty soon starting to play the best baseball we can. But there is a lot of things we need to work on, and we are doing everything we can. We're practicing and shoring up those things and I can definitely see us playing really good ball soon." Sooner fans hope that really good ball again may end up with that return journey to the pinnacle of college baseball, this time the new home of the College World Series, T.D. Ameritrade Park in Omaha. Follow me at twitter.com/joeyhelmer10 or facebook.com/joeyhelmer.
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