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Baseball Begins Home Season Friday
February 09, 2006

NORMAN, Okla. - The University of Oklahoma baseball team (2-1) will begin the home portion of the 2006 schedule against Western Illinois (2-0) on Friday, Feb. 10.  First pitch against the Leathernecks is scheduled for 3 p.m.  inside L. Dale Mitchell Park.

The three-game series continues on Saturday at 3 p.m.  and will come to a close on Sunday at 1 p.m.  This weekend marks the third consecutive year that Western Illinois has made the trip to Norman. 

The Sooners swept the Leathernecks in a three-game set last season, outscoring them 30-13.  The series victory avenged the 5-4 setback WIU handed OU in 2004.

MEDIA EXPOSURE
All three games of the Western Illinois series can be heard live with Chuck Kelly calling the play-by-play.  Friday and Sunday’s contests can be heard via the internet on Yahoo.  Saturday’s game will be carried by the Sooners’ flagship station, KOKC (1520 AM) and will be joined in progress following the men’s basketball game versus Baylor, slated for a 12:30 p.m. tipoff.Pregame coverage for all Sooner baseball games begin 15 minutes prior to first pitch.  Live stats for each of the games can be viewed on Soonersports.com.  Click here for more information about OU baseball broadcasts.

Game Notes (PDF)Big 12 Notes (PDF) | Schedule | Live Stats

UPDATING THE SOONERS
The OU baseball team opened the 2006 season in Edinburg, Texas at the Texas-Pan American Classic at Edinburg Stadium.  The Sunny Golloway Era began in successful fashion as OU won the season-opener, 7-6, over Texas State.  OU starter Daniel McCutchen (1-0) recorded the victory and Will Savage closed the door in the ninth to record his first save of 2006.   After being down 6-2, the Sooners used three runs in the bottom of the fourth and two more in the sixth to snap a two-game losing streak for the program in season openers.  The Sooners are 21-2 in season openers since 1984. 

OU won its second straight game with a convincing 16-3 victory over host UTPA.  Steven Guerra put together a strong performance as he lasted five innings and allowed two earned runs on four hits.  Guerra (1-0) recorded six strikeouts opposite two walks to record the win.  Ryan Mottern, who pinch hit in the fourth frame, fueled the OU offense with a 2-for-3 performance and four RBI.  

The Sooners’ streak was halted on Sunday in the tournament finale against Lamar.  Despite holding an early 5-1 lead after two innings, OU dropped a 21-9 decision.  The Sooners scored nine runs on 11 hits, but the OU offense could not erase the large deficit.  Aaron Reza finished the game with a 3-for-4 performance and two RBI.

PLAYER TO WATCH

Kevin Smith
OU first baseman Kevin Smith is hitting .500 after the Sooners' first three games.  The senior leads the team with five RBI and is slugging at a 1.000 clip.  Smith has 12 total bases in 2006 (three singles, double, triple and a home run).

SCOUTING WESTERN ILLINOIS
Western Illinois enters this weekend’s action with a perfect 2-0 record.  The Leathernecks played in Montgomery, Ala., on Feb. 4 and Feb 5 and swept Alabama State with a 9-4 victory in game one and a 16-3 triumph in game two.  

-On the mound, senior Bobby Mahon leads the team with a 1-0 record and 0.00 ERA.  Mahon started the season-opener and lasted five innings of four-hit ball.  The left-hander struck out four batters opposite two walks.

-Offensively,  Steve Knapp leads the club with five RBI.  The outfielder/designated hitter is batting .375 and went 3-for-6 with three RBI and two runs scored in the Leathernecks last contest.

-WIU is coached by Stan Hyman who is in his 13th season with a 270-253-1 (.516) record.

-Western Illinois returns 16 letterwinners and six position starters from a 2005 team that finished 24-34 overall and 14-10 record in the Mid-Continent Conference (second place).   

-The Sooners are 3-1 lifetime against the Leathernecks and have won three straight meetings.    The last time the two met was in a three-game series last season (Feb. 26-28) in Norman.  WIU’s lone win came in a 5-4 decision in 2004 at L. Dale Mitchell Park.

Western Illinois Baseball

TICKETS AND WEEKEND PROMOTIONS
Gates will open an hour and a half before first pitch at L. Dale Mitchell Park.  Reserved single game tickets are $10 and general admission single game tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for youth K-12 and senior citizens (55 and over).  Purchase tickets online or contact the Ticket Office at (800) 456-GoOU. Season tickets may also be purchased on the day of the game at L. Dale Mitchell Park through the middle of the season, and single game tickets are available for purchase at the game throughout the season as supplies allow. Discounted group tickets are available for $3 for groups of 10 or more. Groups of 100 or more are eligible for $2 tickets. Groups must be arranged at least 24 hours prior to the game.  Below is a look at this weekend's promotions.

Friday, Feb. 10th (Opening Day)
- First 500 fans will receive a free t-shirt
- Players will sign autographs after the game along the third base line

 Saturday, Feb. 11th
- First 100 fans will receive an AM/FM radio
- Players will sign autographs after the game along the third base line

 Sunday, Feb. 12th (Kids Run the Bases Day)
- Kids can run around the bases after the game
- Players will sign autographs after the game along the third base line

WHO’S NEXT
OU heads south to participate in the Rice Tournament hosted by Rice University, currently ranked No.  5 in the Baseball America poll.  In addition to battling the Owls in the opener on Friday, Feb. 17 at 4:30 p.m., OU will have a chance to avenge it’s Feb. 5 loss to Lamar on Saturday at 4:30 p.m.  The Sooners will conclude the tourney on Sunday against Long Beach State (No. 17) at 12 p.m.

Friday’s game can be heard via the internet on Yahoo with Chuck Kelly calling the play-by-play.   Saturday’s and Sunday’s contests will be broadcast live on KOKC (1520 AM).  Saturday’s game, which begins at 4:30 p.m.,  will be cut short due to the women’s basketball game vs. Texas A&M in Norman, slated for a 7 p.m. tipoff.

HOME OPENERS SINCE 1963
In the past 43 seasons, the University of Oklahoma baseball team is 40-3 in the first home game of the season.  The Sooners’ only losses in a home opener came in 1965 (1-0 against OSU), 1969 (3-0 against Kansas) and 1981 (6-5 against Southeastern State).    Additionally, the Sooners have only dropped one three-game set in that span - OSU in 1965 (1-2). 

OFFENSIVE PRODUCTION
Although early in the season, the 2-1 Sooners have proven that they are an offensive team.  In the first three games, OU pounded out 32 runs on 43 hits and eight Sooners are currently batting .400 or better.  As a team, OU is hitting .387 with a .568 slugging percentage.

UTPA CLASSIC ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM

Steven Guerra
Four Sooners were named to the 18-member All-Tournament Team for  the UTPA Classic held in Edinburg, Texas.  Ryan Rohlinger (4-for-7,  2 RBI), Ryan Mottern (4-for-9, 5 RBI), Chuckie Caufield (7-for-15, RBI) and Steven Guerra (1-0, 3.60 ERA) helped the Sooners to a 2-1 record at the UTPA Classic.

OU’S SUCCESS IN SEASON OPENERS
Since 1963, the OU baseball program is 35-9 in season openers.  From 1984 till 2003, the Sooners won 20 consecutive season openers.  Before the 7-6 victory over Texas State on Friday, Feb. 3, the Sooners had dropped the last two season openers, both to Gonzaga.  OU’s 21-2 record since 1984 has been made possible by run support.  The Sooners have outscored the opposition 241-103, scoring in double digits on 11 occasions while averaging 10.5 a game.

BIG 12 COMMISSIONER’S HONOR ROLL
Ten members of the OU baseball team were named to the Fall Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll.  Steven Guerra, Joseph Hughes, Aaron Ivey, Kody Kaiser, Ryan Mottern, Russell Raley, Aaron Reza, Ryan Rohlinger, P.J. Sandoval and Cory Williamson made the list.  In order to qualify for the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll a student-athlete must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA for the semester.   In addition,   Guerra and Ivey maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA for the semester.

OU BASEBALL ON RADIO AND TV
The University of Oklahoma baseball team released its 2006 radio and internet broadcast schedule on Jan. 31.  The entire 56-game schedule will be broadcast live either on the radio by KOKC (1520 AM) or on the internet via Yahoo. 

Ten of the games will be carried on the Sooners Sports’ Network, which enables fans to listen to OU baseball on the radio state-wide.  For a list of affiliates in Oklahoma, visit the Sooner baseball page on SoonerSports.com.

In addition, the Sooners will also be seen live on television for five games this season.  The coverage begins with the Texas series on March 31-April 2.  That three-game set against the defending national champs will be aired on ESPNU from L. Dale Mitchell Park in Norman.  OU can also be seen live on Fox Sports Net for its April 15 game against Missouri.  The Bedlam finale will also be televised by the Sooner Sports Network.  

Below is a look at the games that can be seen on ESPNU, FSN and SSN in addition to the 10 network radio broadcast games.

Date

Opponent

Time

Media

Friday, March 31

Texas

7 p.m.

ESPNU

Saturday, April 1

Texas

6:30 p.m.

ESPNU

Sunday, April 2

Texas

2:30 p.m.

ESPNU/KOKC (network)

Sunday, April 9

at Texas A&M

1 p.m.

KOKC (network)

Saturday, April 15

at Missouri

3 p.m.

Fox Sports Network

Sunday, April 16

at Missouri

1 p.m.

KOKC (network)

Sunday, April 23

at Texas Tech

1 p.m.

KOKC (network)

Sunday, April 30

at Kansas

1 p.m.

KOKC (network)

Sunday, May 7

Kansas St.

1 p.m.

KOKC (network)

Friday, May 12

vs. OSU#

7:30 p.m.

KOKC (network)

Saturday, May 13

vs. OSU*

8 p.m.

KOKC (network)

Sunday, May 14

vs. OSU*

5 p.m.

SSN TV/KOKC (network)

Sunday, May 21

at Nebraska

1:05 p.m.

KOKC (network)


# game to be played at Drillers Stadium in Tulsa, Okla.
* games to be played at the AT&T Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City

SAVAGE NAMED TO STOPPER OF THE YEAR WATCH LIST
Senior pitcher Will Savage was named to the watch list for the 2006 National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) Stopper of the Year award presented to the nation’s top closer.  The list is comprised of 30 closers in Division I baseball, 21 of those players ranked in the top 50 in the nation among saves and nine others were at-large nominations.

Savage became OU’s go-to guy in the bullpen in 2005.  Including the postseason, Savage appeared in 18 of OU’s last 19 games.  After he headed to the bullpen on April 16, Savage made 22 appearances, spanning 46 innings, to close out his year.  In those innings of work, he posted a 2.35 ERA, recorded a 6-1 mark, made six saves, allowed 12 earned runs on 54 hits and seven walks while striking out 19 batters.

PITCHING EXPERIENCE
The Sooners’ pitching staff looks to be solid in 2006 with 84 percent of the innings pitched returning.  Five seniors will lead the charge, including senior ace Daniel McCutchen who struck out 84 batters in 84 innings last year.  Additionally, seventy-seven percent of OU’s wins and strikeouts from 2005 return this season. 

INFIELD EXPERIENCE
Ryan Rohlinger and Russell Raley, both All-Big 12 selections at one point in their collegiate careers, solidify the Sooners’ infield for the third straight year.  Joining Raley up the middle will be last year’s starting shortstop, Freddy Rodriguez.  And on the opposite corner of the infield from Rohlinger is converted third baseman Kevin Smith. 

That foursome combined to start 219 games last year and accounted for over 40 percent of the 2005 Sooners’ offensive production.   Said Coach Golloway of the group:  ““Heading into this 2006, this group of infielders reminds me of the 1994 College World Series team,” commented Golloway.  “I don’t want to put any extra pressure on them but the similarities are there on both offense and defense.”
 
FIRST-YEAR HEAD COACHES
Sunny Golloway, OU’s eighth coach in program history, became the fourth consecutive Sooner coach to win his first season opener.  Previous skippers Larry Cochell, Stan Meek and Enos Seymore were all victorious in their debuts.  Below is a look at how the previous seven coaches in OU history have fared in their first year:

Year Coach Record (winning %)
1906 Bennie Owen 10-6 (.625)
1923 Bill Owen 12-4 (.750)
1927 Lawrence Haskell 12-5 (.706)
1942 Jack  Baer 17-7 (.708)
1968 Enos Seymore 13-14 (.481)
1990 Stan Meek 31-26 (.544)
1991 Larry Cochell 40-23 (.635)
2005 Sunny Golloway 2-1 (.667)

OU PICKED FIFTH IN PRESEASON BIG 12 POLL
The Oklahoma baseball team was picked fifth in the Big 12 Conference Coaches’ preseason poll as released by the league office.  OU received 44 points in the Big 12 poll, ten points shy of fourth place Baylor. 

 This year’s poll marks the highest preseason prediction within the conference in the last three seasons, after being picked third prior to the 2003 season.

Texas once again topped the list for the fourth straight year with 79 points, including eight first-place votes. Nebraska (70) and Missouri (66) followed as the only other teams to receive a first-place vote with one each. The poll was based on a vote by each of the 10 conference head coaches who were not allowed to cast a vote for their own team in the process.  Following OU was Oklahoma State (41) at No. 6, Texas A&M (36) at No. 7, Texas Tech and Kansas (24) tied at No. 8 and Kansas State (11) rounded out the list at No. 10.

2006 Big 12 Conference Coaches' Preseason Poll

Rank/School (First Place Votes) Points
1. Texas (8) 79
2. Nebraska (1) 70
3. Missouri (1) 66
4. Baylor 54
5. Oklahoma 44
6. Oklahoma State 41
7. Texas A&M 36
8. Kansas 24
8. Texas Tech 24
10. Kansas State 11
* Points based on nine for first place, eight for second, etc. 

SOONERS UNDER GOLLOWAY IN 2005
The Sooners finished the regular season with a 10-2 record after Sunny Golloway took the reigns.  Improvements in the team’s power and speed made the run possible which concluded with a 12-6 mark
over the final 18 games of 2005 and an appearance in the final game of the NCAA Oxford Regional.  OU hit 27 of the team’s 49 home runs last season in the final 18 games (1.5 average per game).  OU stole 26 bases over the final 18 games, good for an average of 1.44 swipes a game.  Kody Kaiser was responsible for eight of those stolen bases while Aaron Ivey contributed five.  OU finished 2005 with 64 stolen bases.

GUERRA NAMED TO BROOKS WALLACE LIST
Senior hurler Steven Guerra was named to the watch list for the 2006 Brooks Wallace Award, presented annually to the national college baseball player of the year. 

In his first season as a Sooner, Guerra appeared in 16 games, starting a team-high 15 and lasted at least five innings in 12 of those starts.  The Paso Robeles, Calif., native complied a 5-6 record over 85.2 innings tossed (second most on the team) in 2005 and was tied for third on the team in strikeouts (53).

The Wallace Watch will be trimmed to 12 semi-finalists by late May.Then the selection committee will narrow the list to three finalists following the NCAA Super Regionals at a press conference in Omaha

McCUTCHEN, ROHLINGER AND CAUFIELD NAMED CAPTAINS
Seniors Chuckie Caufield, Daniel McCutchen and Ryan Rohlinger were chosen by their teammates to serve as the team’s captains in 2006.  

Caufield made 56 starts last year and was the only regular starter to compile a perfect fielding percentage.  McCutchen returns for his senior year after being selected in the 12th round of the 2005 MLB Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals.  The Norman, Okla., native became the team’s No. 1 starter midway through the 2005 season.  Rohlinger, also returns for his senior season after being selected by the Cardinals in 2005 (21st round).  Rohlinger was the Sooners’ starting third baseman last year and led the team in nearly every major offensive category.

SEASON TICKETS NOW ON SALE
Season tickets for the 2006 OU baseball season are now on sale through the OU Athletics Ticket Office and SoonerSports.com.  Click here to learn more about what is offered for the 2006 season.

The Sooners' home opener is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 10 at 3 p.m. against Western Illinois.  OU will then continue the series against the Leathernecks on Saturday, Feb. 11 at 3 p.m. and conclude the three-game set on Sunday at 1 p.m.

To order your season tickets please call the OU Athletics Ticket Office at (405) 325-2424 or (800) 456-4668 or click here for more information available on SoonerSports.com. 

RECRUITING CLASS
The Sooners signed 14 athletes for the 2007 season last November.  Below is a brief look at the incoming class.

-Aaron Baker- Denton, Texas (Denton HS)
 C - 6-3 - 220 - L/R
 -Very physical athlete, excellent power from left side of the plate
 
-Vincent Biancamano - Glendale, Ariz. (Chandler Gilbert C.C.)
 IF - 6-0 - 190 - R/R
 -Fits the mold of a very offensive middle infielder

-Tanner Chitwood - Sulphur, Okla. (Sulphur HS)
 LHP - 6-3 - 220 - L/L
 -Tall, physical power with a left-handed arm

-Andrew Doyle - Rock Island, Ill. (Alleman High School)
 RHP - 6-3 - 205 - R/R
 -Very athletic, physical, potential weekend starter

-Mike Gosse - Pitt Meadows, B.C. Canada (New Mexico J.C.)
 IF - 5-9 - 170 - L/R
 -Outstanding hitter that will bat for high average

-Bryant Hernandez - Oxnard, Calif. (St. Bonaventure HS)
 IF - 5-9 - 161 - R/R
 -Stellar defensive infielder, hits for average

-Chad Lee - Oklahoma City (Barton County Community College)
 RHP - 6-3 - 190 - R/R
 -Power pitcher that has made great strides in last year

-Garrett Richards- Edmond, Okla. (Edmond Memorial)
 RHP - 6-3 - 185 - R/R
 -Great control pitcher with high ceiling

-Tyson Seng - Enid, Okla. (Enid HS)
 IF/RHP - 6-0 - 165 - R/R
 -Exceptional all-around athlete, will compete with starters

-Devin Shepherd - Agoura Hills, Calif. (Oxnard HS)
 OF - 6-4 - 230 - R/R
 -Possibly best high school outfielder in the country, five-tool player

-Brandon Thomson - Gilbert, Ariz. (Chandler Gilbert C.C.)
 LHP - 5-11 - 190 - L/L
 -Left-handed arm with power, will likely be drafted high in June

-Danny Grande - Corpus Christi, Texas (Moody High School)
 RHP - 6-0 - 170 - R/R
 -Hard throwing right-hander, has a lot of upside-

-Zach Hedges - Bentonville, Ark. (Bentonville High School)
 IF - 6-2 - 190 - R/R
 -Very athletic corner infielder, power from right side of the plate

-John “Red” Patterson - Frisco, Texas (Grayson County College)
 RHP - 6-3 - 200 - R/R
 -Very consistent in the strike zone, throws 88-90

 

 

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