Winning is a trend the Missouri baseball team needs to continue this week.
After ending the season on a four-game winning streak, the Tigers begin the postseason today with the Big 12 Conference Tournament at Ameriquest Field in Arlington, Texas. The Tigers (24-20-1) finished seventh in the conference and face the No. 2 seed, Oklahoma (36-20), at 1 p.m.
The double-elimination tournament’s title game is Sunday at 1 p.m.
The Sooners swept Missouri in April in a three-game series in Norman, Okla. Oklahoma won the first and third games by one run.
“We haven’t beaten them yet and I like that,” Missouri coach Tim Jamieson said. “I also like the fact that they haven’t seen us play our best game yet, and it’s at a kind of neutral site to play an Oklahoma team.”
Oklahoma is No. 17 in the Baseball America poll and is in the top 25 in three of the four polls. Missouri has done well against ranked teams this season, winning two of three against No. 1 Texas, No. 22 Texas Tech and then-No. 15 Nebraska.
“We know we’re going to be playing good teams down there, so that’s a positive thing,” Jamieson said.
The Sooners lost series to three of the four Big 12 teams Missouri won series against, Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. Almost half of the Oklahoma’s conference wins came in sweeps of Missouri, Kansas and Kansas State.
Ole Sheldon leads Oklahoma and the Big 12 with a .378 batting average this season, but overall, the Sooners lack offensive power, with no player hitting more than seven home runs.
Oklahoma’s strength is consistent pitching. The Sooners have six pitchers with four or more wins and a 3.84 staff ERA.
Missouri enters the tournament as the hottest team in the conference, winning three of its last four conference series, including a sweep of Oklahoma State last weekend, dropping the Cowboys from the No. 3 seed to No. 4.
Garrett Broshuis (9-0) will start against Oklahoma. Jamieson said he is unsure who will pitch in the next games, with Danny Hill (4-4) struggling in his past two outings.
The Tigers have hit well recently, getting strong production throughout their lineup.
Cody Ehlers has led Missouri, hitting .364 with 15 home runs and 57 RBIs. Ryan Rallo, who is second on the team with 11 home runs, and Lee Laskowski, who is hitting .347, have also been strong offensively.
“Keep the same approach and nothing changes,” Rallo said. “That’s all we take down there.”
Although Missouri has had impressive showings against ranked teams, but series losses to Kansas and Kansas State have hurt their chances for an NCAA Regional berth. The Jayhawks and Wildcats are the only teams who did not make the conference tournament.
“We’ve won some big games like (Oklahoma State), but we’ve lost some very terrible games following good wins,” Rallo said.
It might take a championship game appearance, or win, for Missouri to make the NCAA Tournament.
“I believe we deserve a regional,” center fielder James Boone said. “When you get to regional, anything can happen; you know, we’re a team that can take it a long ways.”