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SPORTS: University of Oklahoma

Oklahoma Baseball, Softball Facing Pivotal Weekend

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The Oklahoma softball and baseball teams have been cruising through their respective seasons, piling up the wins and causing people pause and think about just how far they can go in the postseason.

After both teams had midweek games rained out, the Sooners are turning their attention to the weekend, where some of the most important games of the season await.

The OU softball team—still perched atop the national rankings—hasn't played a game since a doubleheader sweep at Wichita State on March 27. After a doubleheader against Louisiana-Lafayette was cancelled Wednesday due to rain, the Sooners picked up a game against No. 18 Tulsa on Thursday. The Golden Hurricane presents a formidable foe, having already knocked off No. 8 Texas this season as well as Big 12 foes Texas Tech and Oklahoma State.

The Sooners and Golden Hurricane weren't originally scheduled to play this season, which is a shame given Tulsa's successful season. It's a great thing the two teams will now be facing off Thursday afternoon in Tulsa. It's another ranked opponent for the Sooners—their 13th of the season—and another chance for Tulsa to prove themselves as a team to be reckoned with on the national stage.

The weekend poses another challenge for the Sooners, as they travel to Waco to take on No. 16 Baylor. The Bears are 29-7 this season, thanks in large part to ace pitcher Whitney Canion's return from an ACL injury last season. Baylor also has three players batting at least .390 this season. Surprisingly, this will be OU's first conference series, while Baylor is already 3-2, having dropped two games to Texas and sweeping a three-game series against Iowa State last weekend.

The Sooners haven't had much of an issue proving they're a legitimate title contender this season, but winning four more games against ranked teams—all of them true road games—would solidify the Sooners' position as the frontrunner to hoist the championship trophy in Oklahoma City in June.

On the baseball diamond, the Sooners missed out on a non-conference Bedlam matchup with Oklahoma State Tuesday thanks to the rain. Now, the Sooners travel to Austin to take on Texas, which is very down this season—just 16-11 coming into the weekend series with the Sooners. While Texas isn't as good as it normally is, the Longhorns still present a challenge for the Sooners, who haven't won a series against the Longhorns going back to at least 2000. The Sooners are 7-32 against Texas in the past 13 years in the regular season.

There's no reason the Sooners shouldn't win the series against Texas this weekend, as they have the advantage in every possible category. However, Disch-Falk Field is a tough place to play, and the Sooners will no doubt be aware of their past struggles against the Horns.

The next weekend, OU travels to take on Baylor. The Bears are just a shell of last year's team that went 49-17 and won 24 straight games in the middle of the season. However, despite the Bears ascending to as high as No. 2 in the country, the Sooners defeated Baylor all five times the two teams faced off last season—three in Waco and two in the Big 12 Tournament in Oklahoma City.

Regardless of how good the Bears are this season, the best teams in sports find ways to win on the road. Oklahoma has hovered around the top 15 all season and is currently ranked No. 13. OU has a good shot of making some noise in the postseason, and vanquishing its struggles with Texas and continuing their impressive run against Baylor will give the Sooners a boost of confidence to take the next step this season.

It's barely the start of conference play, but the Sooners are facing key stretches over the next two weeks on both diamonds that can help cement their status as title contenders. The softball team has proven it can play with the best week in and week out and simply has to continue their stellar play against ranked foes. The baseball team has an opportunity to forget about the past and take care of business against an archrival.

Both teams want to be playing when the heat of June rolls across the Oklahoma plains. In order to play in the heat of summer, both teams have to endure the regular season heat that comes from conference opponents looking to knock them from their perch.

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