Norman news and notes: Kirby Smart ready for Oklahoma’s arrival, OU baseball stays alive, more

Oklahoma and Texas's arrival in the SEC made waves at the SEC Spring Meetings in Destin and Georgia head coach Kirby Smart thinks Brent Venables is ready to lead his program into its new conference. Plus, OU baseball with elimination game in Regional.
Oklahoma head football coach Brent Venables
Oklahoma head football coach Brent Venables / SARAH PHIPPS/THE OKLAHOMAN / USA TODAY

The Oklahoma Sooners don’t have the Georgia Bulldogs on the schedule in 2024, which is great news for head coach Brent Venables and his team’s hopes of competing for an SEC title. Still, Kirby Smart, now the preeminent coach in the conference following Nick Saban’s retirement, offered his thoughts on the arrival of Texas and Oklahoma at the SEC Spring Meetings in Destin Florida. 

Smart’s Bulldogs will head to Austin to face Steve Sarkisian’s Longhorns and of Texas, he said, “It’s extremely tough, the fact that they’re in our conference. They’re further away, they’re a powerful football team, they’ve got a great state to recruit in.” 

Regarding the Sooners, who will undoubtedly face Georgia at some point in the future and last faced the Bulldogs in the 2018 College Football Playoff, a two-overtime classic at the Rose Bowl, Smart said, “Both staffs are really good.” Referring to Sarkisian and Brent Venables. 

“Sark and Brent both have SEC experience, with Brent being over in the ACC and playing at Clemson he’s played SEC teams forever. They both know the climate they’re jumping into and we think it makes our conference better.”

Oklahoma baseball stays alive

After falling to UConn 4-1 in the second game of the Norman Regional, the No. 9 overall seed Oklahoma Sooners were facing elimination heading into Sunday. The Sooners would need to survive a double-header to keep the hope of reaching a Super Regional alive. 

Oklahoma began the day eliminating Duke from contention, beating the Blue Devils 4-3 behind seven innings of one-run ball from starting pitcher Grant Stevens. Stevens took the win to move to 6-1 on the season. He surrendered his only run in the first inning and the Sooners responded with three runs in the bottom of the second, two driven in on designated hitter Jason Walk’s triple. 

With the Blue Devils packing for a flight back to Durham, UConn had a chance to knock out Skip Johnson’s Sooners in the second game of the doubleheader. The Huskies struck for three runs in the first off Brendan Girton, but Jett Lodes was able to toss seven innings of one-run ball in relief to bridge the gap to Ryan Lambert who closed the door for a 6-4 victory. Bryce Madron, Michael Snyder, and Scott Mudler drove in two runs apiece. 

The Sooners and the Huskies will play for the third time in three days on Monday, with first pitch scheduled for 8:00 pm CT. 

More: Oklahoma Softball on the cusp of a fourth-straight title

The Oklahoma softball program is in the midst of a truly dominant run and with a 1-0 win over No. 6 UCLA on Saturday, the Sooners moved to 56-6 on the year and clinched a semifinal matchup with No. 5 Florida in Oklahoma City. First pitch is 11:00 am CT on Monday.

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