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Season Opening Series Preview: vs. The Okie State Pistol Petes

The lone top 10 matchup on opening weekend is at Hawkins Field. We get the luxury of finding out if this team can hack it against top competition right away.

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NCAA Football: Tulsa at Oklahoma State
Well, they seem reasonable.
Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

Week One (2/18-2/20): at. Okie State

Friday @ 4:30pm CT on SECN+/ESPN+

Saturday @ 1:00pm CT on SECN+/ESPN+

Sunday @ 1:00pm CT on SECN+/ESPN+

2021 Record: 36-19-1 (12-12 Big XII) *Cue young Tom Hanks saying, “There’s no tying in baseball!” The 2021 Okie Pokes hovered around the bottom of the top 25 rankings for most of the season, getting a #2 seed in the Tucson bracket, where they promptly lost 2 of three—both to the UC Santa Barbara Fightin’ Hats. Not only did they lose to the Hats, they were effectively run-ruled, losing Game 1 13-3 and Game 2 14-4. Oof. Their biggest win in 2021 was likely knocking Tejas out of the Big XII tourney. We beat them 2 games to 1 in Stillwater last year.

2022: Record: 0-0. Duh. The baseball writers all have Okie State in the top 20 (of course, they all have us in the top 5). D1Baseball has them at #7 (us at #3); Baseball America has them at #19 (us at #2); and the USA Today Coaches’ Poll has them at #8 (us at #2).

Player to Watch: Their best player in 2021, #24 So. 3B Christian “The Hyphen” Encarnacion-Strand, was drafted by the Twins, so expect their offense to take a bit of a hit. That makes the player to watch #17 Grad Student 1B Jake “Homer” Thompson.

As I said in last year’s series preview:

Thompson, formerly of Terror Lake, has moved to Stillwater, OK after his Witness Protection cover was blown. He wanted to go to Ice-Creamville, but decided on Stillwater after the agent informed him the town’s name was actually “Screamville.”

When opposing pitchers said “Hello, Mr. Thompson” and pressed down on his foot, he slashed .342/.502/.479 with 8 2B, 4 HR, and 32 RBI. Though he’s an impressive AVG/OBP hitter, those are not exactly the power numbers you want from someone manning the cold corner.

Anchor of Gold Tiger Beat Hottest Player: #27 So. RHP/DH Justin “Bicurious Soup” Campbell. The man goes both ways and hit .269 last year. Do I need to elaborate? Fine. He’s not exactly a terror at the plate, but he’s their Friday starter, and may DH on Saturday and/or Sunday. Last year, he went 7-2 with a 2.57 ERA. Oh, and he’s tall. Like 6’7”. As Jim Lynam reminds us, you can’t teach that.

Confidence Level: Lukewarm. Though I expect us to take this series, I must admit, I have more doubts in the 2022 Diamond Dores than the pre-season prognosticators. In other words, we will know a lot more about this team after this weekend’s series. You don’t just replace Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter with Chris McElvain and Nick Maldonado and not see a difference. You also don’t replace a defensive wizard in Chi Chi “The Frame God” Rodriguez and not see a difference. I think this team has the offense to make a deep tourney run, but the pitching staff is an open competition, and Dom Keegan damn well better be able to hold his own at catcher (defensively, I mean... there is no question about The Dominator at the plate). Talented, sure, but again... I’m at “wait and see” right now. You should be, too.

On the Mound

Friday @ 4:30pm CT on SECN+/ESPN+

#35 Vanderbilt Jr. RHP Chris “McBain” McElvain (0-0; 0.00 ERA)

vs. #6 Oklahoma State #27 So. RHP/DH Justin “Bicurious Soup” Campbell

Saturday @ 1:00pm CT on SECN+/ESPN+

#29 Vanderbilt Jr. RHP Nick “Where’s Maldo?” Maldonado (0-0; 0.00 ERA)

vs. #16 Oklahoma State So. RHP Victor “Fortified Wine“ Mederos (0-0; 0.00 ERA)

Sunday @ 1:00pm CT on SECN+/ESPN+

#20 Vanderbilt Fr. LHP Carter “Southpaw Sonny Gray” Holton (0-0; 0.00 ERA)

vs. #3 Oklahoma State So. RHP Bryce “A Little Bit Country” Osmond (0-0; 0.00 ERA)

The Lineups

As said in the position previews, expect many of these positions to be open battles until SEC play. We knew Corbs had confidence in the bats of Bulger and Jones, but I don’t think many among us would have pegged them for the 2 and 3 holes, respectively. More specifically, I would have suspected Mighty Carter Young and Dr. Jones’s lineup spots to be swapped. When Tater’s at 2nd, it makes sense to have Vaz in LF. When Tater’s at 1st, I would expect LaNeve to be in LF. 1B Jonathan Vastine with his first start as a Diamond Dore. Chaos reigns. Let’s go.

See you in the comments.