Streakin’: Oklahoma’s Matt Oberste

Matt Oberste

Matt Oberste (Photo by John Williamson)

Matt Oberste was 0-for-5 heading into his 12th-inning at-bat last Friday against Texas Christian. With Max White on first base and no outs, Oberste showed bunt—and Oklahoma’s fans weren’t happy about it.

“It was funny, I called fake bunt, just trying to put them to sleep, make them think maybe we are going to bunt,” OU coach Sunny Golloway said. “So we fake bunt, he takes ball one, some fans started to boo. I said, ‘Come on, we’re just trying to win a game here!’ ”

The fans knew Oberste’s 23-game hitting streak was on the line, and they were delighted when he ripped the next pitch off the left-center-field wall for a double. The Sooners won shortly thereafter on a passed ball, and Oberste kept his streak going through the weekend. On Tuesday against Oral Roberts, the junior first baseman/DH went 2-for-3 to extend his hitting streak to 27 games, tying a school record set by Marty Neff in 1991. Golloway said Neff had already reached out to Oberste to wish him luck.

Good luck finding a hitter in who has been hotter over the first six weeks of the season than Oberste, who moved into the national lead in batting (.476) on Tuesday. He’s a big reason Oklahoma is riding an 11-game winning streak, during which Oberste is hitting .568 with 10 RBIs and 13 runs scored. He is also hitting for power, leading the team with seven home runs, nine doubles and three triples. And he has shown good plate discipline, drawing 12 walks while striking out just 15 times.

“It’s just patience, and he’s strong,” Golloway said. “He has great hand-eye coordination, he lets the ball get deep to drive it the other way, but he still has enough bat speed and strength to turn on it. He’s kind of got it all going for him, I’ll tell you that.”

Oberste also got off to a strong start last year after transferring in from Connors State (Okla.) JC, but a strained forearm sidelined him for a few weeks in the first half of the season, and when he returned the Sooners were playing well without him, so he didn’t reclaim his spot in the lineup immediately.

“I remember seeing him looking down in the dugout a little bit, and he never gets down,” Golloway said. “I said, ‘Obie, what’s wrong?’ He said, ‘I just wish I was contributing.’ So I stuck him in the DH spot, and he never looked back. I just think he doesn’t like to lose, that’s his deal. He’s going to compete, compete, compete and compete a little bit more.”

Teammates Dillon Overton and Jonathan Gray both said without hesitation that Oberste is the best video game player on the team, and his competitiveness spills over into that arena.

“He’s pretty into the video games—he gets serious with it,” Overton said. “He yells at the TV; that’s what makes it fun.”

Oklahoma has a tight-knit clubhouse, and the team’s 23-4 start is largely a product of teamwork. Golloway also credits newcomers Kolbey Carpenter and Hector Lorenzana with providing Oberste protection in the lineup, helping his hitting streak flourish.

And if it weren’t for Oklahoma’s pitching and defense keeping TCU’s offense at bay until the 12th inning, his streak would have ended last Friday.

“I told him after that game, ‘You talk about your teammates being involved in your streak. If it wasn’t for your teammates battling and our pitching, you wouldn’t have been able to extend it,’ ” Golloway said. “So when you start talking about, ‘Meant to be . . .’ “