CARY, N.C. – University of Oklahoma baseball players Jake Irvin (Bloomington, Minn.) and Steele Walker (Prosper, Texas) have each accepted invitations to training camp with USA Baseball. The Sooner tandem heads to Cary, N.C. next week to compete for spots on the Team USA Collegiate National Team, which plays a 21-game schedule beginning June 22.
Irvin and Walker are the first OU players invited to training camp with Team USA since Sheldon Neuse after his freshman season in 2014. Only five Sooners have player for Team USA, while the last to do so was Brian Shackelford in 1995.
UCLA head coach John Savage will serve as the manager this summer with Long Beach State head coach Troy Buckley acting as the pitching coach and Cal Poly head coach Larry Lee and Cal State Fullerton head coach Rick Vanderhook, whose team is currently participating in the College World Series, serving as the assistant coaches.
As training camp invitees, Irvin and Walker and guaranteed a spot on the roster for each of the first five games, which will be played against teams from the Coastal Plain League; a wood-bat collegiate summer league in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
After training camp, the roster is narrowed down to 28 players, all of whom are not draft eligible until 2018 or 2019. Team USA CNT will then play a five-game series against Chinese Taipei at the National Training Complex in Cary for four games and play the finale at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Team USA remains in North Carolina for five games against Cuba spread out between Cary, Durham and BB&T Ballpark in Charlotte. The final week of action takes Team USA to New England where it will face the Futures League All-Stars in Worcester, Mass. Following that game, Team USA welcomes Japan for a five-game series played in Hartford, Worcester, Brockton, Lowell and Nashua.
As a sophomore, Irvin anchored the Oklahoma rotation in the Friday night role with a 6-3 record and 3.53 earned run average. He struck out 75 batters in 71.1 innings. Despite taking the loss in his last outing, Irvin outlasted national player of the year candidate and fourth overall pick Brendan McKay in a winner's bracket game at the NCAA Louisville Regional. He pitched seven innings of one-run ball before being pulled in the eighth with nobody out in a tie game. Irvin scattered three hits and two walks with four strikeouts.
Walker led the Sooner lineup with a .333 average and slugged .541 on 16 home runs, eight home runs and three triples. He scored 49 runs and drove in 51 to become the first OU player with 50 or more in a season since Matt Oberste in 2013. Walker primarily played center field and did not commit a single error in 120 chances on the season.