Listen To Frankie, Etc.

I'd bet my considerable (ahem) earnings that The OG is unfamiliar with the cultural contributions of Frankie Goes To Hollywood, but the mantra he shared with the Owls on Monday had a familiar ring. The focus of their workout was situational hitting (developing a successful approach with two strikes; driving in runners at third base with less than two outs) and situational pitching (recording outs when working with two-strike counts). Despite the series loss at Memphis and the subsequent banishment from the national polls, The OG was decidedly chipper. The Owls' problems are mental, and with stringent effort can be resolved.

This team is pressing. The offense because defensive blunders and poor pitching at Stanford left the hitters shouldering the responsibility of carrying the team; the pitchers because they underperformed early and developed a paralyzing habit of forcing the ball over the plate instead of simply pitching. At this point no one should object to any method The OG employs to get this team on track psychologically, even brainwashing. If it works, go for it. Just relax.

"They're always going to try hard," The OG said. "They've got to have fun playing baseball."

As for the surprising news of Sr. RHP Mike Ojala making his first start of the season with just two appearances under his belt following midsummer Tommy John surgery, The OG had answers. In a sense, the decision was made prior to the Memphis series, and once the series finale was moved to the second game of a doubleheader last Saturday, the call was cemented. After pitching at Texas last Tuesday, the earliest Ojala would have pitched was Sunday. He will be on a strict pitch count (35), and should things go well, he'll be cleared to work again during the series finale against UH on Saturday. Starting Ojala allows the staff to control his warm-up and provide a safer environment as they carefully lengthen his outings, and it won't preclude Ojala from working out of the bullpen later this season. But with this decision, the ultimate goal is clear: Ojala will rejoin the weekend rotation as soon as possible.

Across the parking lot at HRS, the Owls completed their penultimate full pads workout. On Tuesday they will be in shorts, and they will cap spring practice with their third and final scrimmage on Wednesday. Film study from the Blue-Gray Game didn't reveal many surprises, although it was a positive to discover that RS Fr. DB Tolu Akinwumi didn't make as many alignment errors as originally feared. Jr. DB Xavier Webb was guilty of only one mistake and posted a strong production number while Jr. DB Chris Jammer appears to have regained his confidence. Sr. DE Cheta Ozougwu delivered yet another exceptional spring practice effort.

Owls coach David Bailiff isn't too concerned with the uneven play of the offensive line. The unit is missing Sr. LT Scott Mitchell and RS Fr. G/T Bobby Janisch, and their absence hurts. Jake Hicks and Tyler Parish performed with developing technical savvy. That's great news.

If So. RB Sam McGuffie plays on Wednesday, it won't be for many snaps. Wait 'till September.
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