Oklahoma baseball: What's next for the Big 12 regular-season champions?


The fan interest behind Oklahoma softball is typically building to a crescendo this time of year as the Sooners make their final postseason ascent to the Women's College World Series, but what isn't typical is an Oklahoma baseball team that is riding high into the postseason.

Now, before we get too far along on this subject, we readily acknowledge that the Sooners were runners-up to Ole Miss in the College World Series (the baseball version of the WCWS). As successful down the stretch as that 2022 OU baseball squad was, what they accomplished was an aberration. Although Oklahoma has made 15 NCAA Tournament appearances in the past 23 seasons (or since 2000), the Sooners have been to the CWS just twice (2010 and 2022).

Oklahoma will make another postseason appearance this year, but before that it has the Big 12 Championship this week. The Sooners (34-18, 23-7) are the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament as a result of winning the Big 12 regular-season tournament. It was OU's first regular-season title as a member of the Big 12 and first since 1995, the penultimate season of the Big Eight.

The Sooners' set a program record with their 23 Big 12 wins, and this week in Arlington, Texas, they are seeking their first tournament championship since 2013 and just their third overall (they also won the conference tournament in the Big 12 inaugural season in 1997). It would be ironic if the Sooners are are to pull off the championship double-double in their final season in the Big 12 and in both their first and final season insofar as the Big 12 Tournament champions.

This years Big 12 Tournament will have a much different look than previous ones because of the addition of four more teams, two of which (Cincinnati and UCF) made the 10-team tournament field. Two other new teams (BYU and Houston) missed the cut line for the tournament along with older members Baylor and Texas Tech.

As the top seed in the Big 12 Tournament, Oklahoma has perhaps the least difficult path to reach the championship game, but it won't be an easy one. The Sooners earned a first-round bye and won't play until 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday in the double-elimination tournament. OU will play the lower-seeded winner of the opening-round contests on Tuesday between No. 7 Kansas and No. 8 Kansas State and No. 4 West Virginia and No. 9 TCU.

If you are still able to follow along, If the Sooners win on Wednesday, they will be matched against the higher-seeded winner of Game 1(Kansas vs. K-State) and Game 2 (West Virginia vs. TCU). In other words, OU will play the lower-seeded winner of those two games on Wednesday, and if the Sooners win on Wednesday, they will be matched against the higher-seeded winner of those same games on Thursday.

If the tournament follows chalk, Oklahoma and No. 4 West Virginia will be the 12:30 game on Thursday. The Sooners lost just three of 10 conference series this season, and one of the three was at West Virginia.

No. 2 Oklahoma State and No. 3 Texas are in the opposite bracket from Oklahoma, and the top-seeded Sooners could be on a collision course with one of those two teams come Friday. OU also lost two of three games against each of those teams during the season.

The 2024 Big 12 Championship game is set for 6 p.m. on Saturday from Globe Life Field (home of the MLB Texas Rangers). The championship game is scheduled to be televised on ESPNU.