The Baton Rouge Super Regional is intriguing for several reasons, but none more than the intriguing pitching matchups between the two clubs.
For the Sooners, junior right-handed pitcher Jonathan Gray and left-hander Dillon Overton lead the charge. Gray could very well be the top pick in the MLB draft Thursday night, while Overton has good pitchability and overall, a very good repertoire. Meanwhile, senior left-handed pitcher Jake Fisher has evolved as a solid starter for the Sooners, shining in last weekend's Blacksburg Regional.
But first things first, OU's success on the mound begins with Gray. Gray is a stocky, tough and durable pitcher for the Sooners. Gray is consistently in the mid-to-upper 90s with his fastball, still touching 97-98 in the eighth inning when we saw him earlier this season. Meanwhile, he has a nasty mid-80s slider, and also utilizes a changeup at times. Gray surprisingly has a tendency to pitch backwards at times, so keep an eye on that this weekend.
Overton has a fastball that touches 90, but overall, the big thing about him is that he's able to command multiple pitches for strikes. Overton, though on the skinny side, has very good numbers this season with a 2.91 ERA in 86 2/3 innings of work. He also has struck out 76, walked 22 and teams are hitting him at just a .253 clip.
Then there's Fisher. Fisher has appeared in 20 games this season, starting six, and has a 2.53 ERA in 53 1/3 innings of work, along with 50 strikeouts and 14 walks, while teams are hitting him at at .282 clip.
While Oklahoma is more about getting off to a good start with Gray and Overton leading the charge, the Tigers have the more complete weekend rotation with right-handed pitchers Aaron Nola and Ryan Eades, and left-hander Cody Glenn leading the way.
Nola is the consummate professional on the mound for the Tigers. He's only a sophomore, so he's not drat-eligible at this point. However, like Gray this year, Nola likely will be one of the top draft picks next summer with a fastball in the low-90s and a true four-pitch mix, while he has outstanding pitchability with a cool and collective demeanor.
Eades tends to be hot and cold for the Tigers. Eades had a tough performance last weekend against Jackson State, but before that, had shined in a couple of starts. Eades can get his fastball up to 93-94 and has a 2.81 ERA in 96 innings, along with 77 strikeouts and 30 walks, and a .269 opponent team batting average.
Then there's Glenn. Glenn missed last weekend's Baton Rouge Regional because of a suspension. However, the LSU team voted to reinstate him and he's back in the rotation this weekend against the Sooners.
Glenn doesn't have blow-away stuff like Nola and Eades possesses at times, but he's very good at keeping the ball low in the zone, and it's hard to barrel up the ball against him. Glenn has started 14 games this season and has a 2.41 ERA in 82 innings. He also has struck out 37, walked 16, and teams are hitting him at a .269 clip.