Sheldon Neuse: Mr. Everything for Sooner Baseball This Season


Any way you choose to look at it, the 2016 Sooner baseball season has been average at best. If that bothers you as an Oklahoma fan, just imagine what might have been without the all-around contribution of Sheldon Neuse.

The junior shortstop and sometime pitcher was a key contributor, as he has been all season long, in the Sooners’ Bedlam series win over Oklahoma State over the weekend. Neuse went 6 for 13 in the three-game series, driving in five of Oklahoma’s 21 runs in the three contests and scoring four times.

OU won two of the three games over their in-state rivals and came very close to making it a series sweep, but a six-run rally in the final two innings fell a run short in a 10-9 loss to the 15th-ranked Cowboys on Saturday. The Sooners had drawn to within a run and had the tying run 90-feet away and the bases loaded with two out in the ninth and with their leading hitter, Neuse, coming to the plate.

The Sooners couldn’t have asked for a more perfect setup, but they weren’t able to cash in, even with their best hitter and run producer at the plate, as Neuse popped out to the shortstop to end the came and cut the Oklahoma rally short.

That was one of the few times all season that the Sooner star didn’t come through with the game on the line. His offensive consistency has been a big plus in a season that has been filled with ups and downs and resulted in an overall record that is just two games above .500 after 51 games.

Neuse is second in the Big 12 with a batting average of .383 through all games, and he ranks in the top five in the conference in eight other offensive categories, including a league-best 125 total  bases and .683 slugging percentage. He is third in the conference in hits (70), tied for third in home runs (10), tied for the lead in triples (5), third in runs batted in (46) and fifth in walks (34).

The All-Big 12 First Team performer recorded his 23rd multi-hit game of the 2016 season with his three hits in the game two loss to Oklahoma State. He also extended his current hitting streak to a career-high nine games with a first-inning single in the Sooners’ win on Sunday.

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Neuse has been particularly productive against Bedlam rival Oklahoma State in his three seasons at OU. He owns a career batting average of .348 against the Cowboys with 23 hits in 63 official at bats, a factor that certainly was weighing on the mind of OSU head coach Josh Holliday when Neuse was up to bat with the bases loaded and the Sooners trailing by a run in the final inning on Saturday.

Named to the 2016 Preseason All-America Team by Baseball America, Neuse’s productivity for the Sooners this season has not been limited to hitting and fielding, he also has contributed on the pitching mound. The OU starting shortstop has appeared in 13 games in relief, compiling a record of 4-1, with four saves and an ERA of 1.47. He has struck out 19 batters in 18 1/3 innings.

Before the weekend set against Oklahoma State, the Sooners has lost seven of the last 10 contests with the Cowboys. The series win by Oklahoma not only most likely secured a No. 5 seed in the Big 12 postseason championship beginning May 25, but also eliminated OSU from Big 12 regular-season title contention.

The Sooners return to action on Tuesday with a road game against former Big 12 foe Missouri. Then over the weekend they travel to Clarksville, Tennessee for a three-game series with Austin Peay, a Division II school out of the Ohio Valley Conference.