NORMAN, Okla. -- During an up and down year, the University of Oklahoma baseball team put together a successful run at the end of the season and was rewarded with its second consecutive NCAA regional appearance, a first since the 1997-98 seasons.
OU began the 2005 season after being picked to finish seventh in the Big 12 by the league’s coaches. The Sooners started off the year with back-to-back losses to Gonzaga and Arizona State but rebounded by rattling off eight consecutive victories, a season high.
By the time Big 12 play opened at the end of March, OU was 13-8 in non-conference play. Texas A&M was the first league opponent for the Sooners and OU made quick work of the No. 14 Aggies, winning the final two games of the series after dropping a disappointing series opener, 7-5, in ten innings.
But the team would struggle after the Big 12 opener, going 5-10 over the next 15 conference games. OU won a series at home against Kansas but suffered defeats to Baylor (1-2), Texas (0-3), Missouri (1-2) and Nebraska (1-2).
After the Nebraska series concluded on April 30, OU found itself without longtime coach Larry Cochell, who stepped down with 12 games remaining in the regular season. Following Cochell's resignation, associate head coach Sunny Golloway was named the interim head coach. And just when everyone thought the season was over, the team rallied to finish the regular season strong, winning 10 games in that span.
The turning point of the season may have come in Manhattan, Kan., where they came from behind in the final two games of the series to win in extra innings. OU finished the regular season on its second longest winning streak of the year at seven games, including five consecutive conference victories. The stellar run was good enough to qualify OU for the 2005 Phillips 66 Big 12 Tournament as the No. 5 seed. The team entered the Big 12 Tourney as the hottest team in the conference but went two and out for the first time in its history of play in the Big 12 postseason.
Despite the struggle in the conference tournament, OU made its second consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament with a berth in the Oxford Regional. After a respectable showing, which included wins over Southern Miss and Maine, the postseason run ended with a 20-5 loss to No. 9 Mississippi in an elimination game of the 2005 Oxford Regional Championships.
OU landed three members on the All-Regional Team, Chuckie Caufield, Ryan Rohlinger and Kody Kaiser, who combined to hit six of the team’s eight home runs (a regional best among the four participating schools). It marked the most any Sooner team had placed on an all-regional squad since the 1995 team, which had five members.
OU finished the season with a 35-26 overall record and a 14-13 mark in conference play.
Four current Sooners and four signees were drafted in the 2005 MLB Amateur Draft held on June 7 and 8. During day one, Garrett Patterson was picked in the seventh round, at No. 229, to join the New York Yankees’ organization. Junior Daniel McCutchen followed in the 12th round, 380th overall, after being picked up by the St. Louis Cardinals.
On day two, McCutchen was joined by teammate Ryan Rohlinger, who was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals. The Sooners third baseman was selected 650th overall by the Cardinals in the 21st round. Junior right-handed pitched Tyler Gooch was also selected on the final day, at No. 1491 (50th round) by the Philadelphia Phillies.
In addition, four signees, who are part of the Sooners’ 2006 class which was ranked in the nation’s top 10 by Baseball America, were also drafted. Louis Ott (13th round by Detroit), Sean Shofitt (15th round by Toronto) and David Hernandez (16th round by Baltimore) were taken on day one while Omar Aguilar (30th round by Milwaukee) was drafted on the second day.
KAISER TABBED FRESHMAN ALL-AMERICAN
Freshman Kody Kaiser earned OU’s first All-America honors since 2002 on Wednesday, after being named a Second Team Freshman All-American by Baseball America, a well-known publication dedicated to the sport.
In 2005, Kaiser (.305, 10 HR, 34 RBI) was one of the Sooners’ most consistent hitters and the only member of the team to start all 61 games. The Edmond, Okla., native failed to collect a hit in just 15 of those games and was the team’s leader in total bases (133) and stolen bases (13). The right fielder finished second on the team in home runs (10), doubles (15) and hits (78).
The last time a Sooner was named a freshman All-American was in 2002. That year, Matt Bose and David Purcey both collected Freshman All-America honors (First Team - Collegiate Baseball). Kaiser is just the fifth Sooner to be named a Freshman All-American at OU.
MORE ON THE OXFORD REGIONAL
The run in the Oxford Regional was OU’s best run in the postseason since the 2000 Oklahoma City Regional when they went 2-2. OU knocked off Southern Miss, the No. 2 seed, in the 2005 tourney, marking the first time the Sooners won a regional opener since 2000.
The Sooners were 24-5 (.828) at home in 2005, the program’s best record at L. Dale Mitchell since the 1995 season (25-2, .926). In its 29 games played at L. Dale Mitchell Park, OU hit .338 as a team and significantly outscored the opposition, 262-154. Twenty-six of the Sooners’ 49 homers were hit in their home park. Ryan Rohlinger, OU’s top hitter, was even better at home with .409 clip to accompany his six homers and 36 RBI. Thirty-three of Kevin Smith’s 42 RBI came at home. The junior hit .354 with a .596 slugging percentage in the 29 games. Left-handed pitcher Garrett Patterson also enjoyed playing in front of the home crowd. The junior was 4-1 with two saves in five starts and three relief appearances at L. Dale Mitchell Park. The lefty had 40 strikeouts in 36.2 innings pitched and a 2.21 ERA in games played in Norman.
SPRING BIG 12 COMMISSIONER’S HONOR ROLL
Nine members of the 2005 OU baseball team were named to the Spring 2005 Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll as announced by the conference office. Junior Daniel McCutchen and sophomore Aaron Ivey led the way with perfect 4.0 GPAs. Student-athletes must maintain at least a 3.00 GPA for the semester to be recognized on the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll. Other members included: Joe Dunigan, Jared Freeman, Tyler Gooch, Freddy Rodriguez, Ryan Rohlinger, Scott Rooker, and P.J. Sandoval. Last semester, fifteen baseball players were named to the Fall 2004 Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll.
OU hit 27 of the team’s 49 home runs this season in the final 17 games (1.5 average per game). The Sooners hit a round tripper in all but four of those contests and Ryan Rohlinger knocked out seven in that span. Rohlinger finished the year with 11 dingers and joined Kody Kaiser as the first pair of Sooners to hit 10 or more homers in a season since 2002 (Jason Franz-15, Charlie Frasier-12). Nine of the 27 homers came in the series at Kansas State, a three-game series season high. The three-game total marked the most an OU team had knocked out, in a Big 12 series, since the 2000 season (13 vs. Iowa State).
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.
Three freshmen saw regular time in the Sooners starting lineup this year. Kody Kaiser is the first of that group and the only member of the team to start every game in 2005. Kaiser failed to collect a hit in just 15 of those games and finished second on the team in home runs (10). Jackson Williams started 53 games at catcher for OU and played in 57 games overall. The freshman was fourth on the team with 12 doubles and tied for fifth with four home runs. Finally, Brad Burns started 13 games for OU on the mound in 2005. second highest on the team. Burns finished the year 2-1 with a 4.50 ERA. The Omaha, Neb., native had perhaps his best outing of the year against the Cornhuskers. On April 29, he struck out a season-high six batters and lasted 6.1 innings in which he allowed one run (earned) on six hits for the no decision.
EIGHT SOONERS HEADLINE ALL-BIG 12 TEAMS
Oklahoma juniors Ryan Rohlinger (3B), Garrett Patterson (SP) and Russell Raley (2B) were named to the All-Big 12 Second Team while senior Eric Thornton (utility), juniors Will Savage (RP), Daniel McCutchen (SP), Kevin Smith (DH) and freshman Kody Kaiser (OF) received honorable mention.
The teams were announced by the conference ofﬁ ce on Wednesday, May 25, the ﬁrst day of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Tournament in Oklahoma City. The honorees are voted on by the league’s coaches.
Rohlinger, Raley, McCutchen, Thornton are all repeat members as Raley was a ﬁrst team member at second base a year ago, Thornton a second team member as a designated hitter and Rohlinger (SS) and McCutchen (RP) were both named honorable mention in 2004.
Savage, Smith and Kaiser are making their ﬁ rst appearances on the conference’s honoree list. In their ﬁrst seasons at OU, all three players have made immediate impacts on this year’s club.
FOUR SOONERS NAMED TO ACADEMIC ALL-BIG 12 TEAMS
Among the honorees, sophomore Aaron Ivey (Oklahoma City), junior Scott Rooker (Dallas, Texas) and junior Ryan Rohilnger (West Bend, Wisc.) made the Academic All-Big 12 First Team while senior Matt Bose (Midland, Texas) was named to the second team.
Ivey, making his ﬁ rst appearance on the team along with Rooker and Rohlinger, was the only player nominated in the league with a 4.00 grade point average. Matt Bose was named to an academic team for the third consecutive year, after garnering ﬁrst team accolades in 2003 and 2004.
Kansas placed a league-leading nine players on the academic squad, six on the ﬁ rst team and three on the second. Nominated by each institution’s director of student-athlete support services and media relations ofﬁ ces, the baseball academic all-league squad consisted of 29 ﬁ rst team members combined with 18 on the second team. First team members include those who have maintained a 3.20 or better GPA, and the second team are those who have a 3.00 to 3.19 GPA.
To qualify student-athletes must record a 3.00 GPA or higher either cumulative or the two previous semesters. All players nominated must have participated in 60 percent of his team’s scheduled contests, while pitchers are required to have at least one inning pitched per game played by the team or have appeared in 35 percent of their team’s total games. Freshmen and transfers are not eligible in their ﬁ rst year of academic residence. Senior student-athletes who have participated for a minimum of two years and meet all the criteria except percent of participation are also eligible.
ROHLINGER NAMED TO OKLAHOMAN’s 1ST ANNUAL ALL-BIG 12 TEAM
Junior Ryan Rohlinger has had a standout season and the Daily Oklahoman recognized his efforts by naming him to the First Team as a utility player in the ﬁ rst annual All-Big 12 Team last week. He ﬁ nished the regular season as the team’s leader in batting average (.355), hits (75), runs (47), home runs (10), RBI (49) and slugging percentage (.578)
Sooner reliever Will Savage became OU’s go-to guy in the bullpen. The junior earned four saves in his four appearances against Northern Colorado and Texas Tech during the final week of the regular season. Savage struck out five and walked zero as he held batters to a .267 clip in the five games to finish the season. Including the postseason, Savage appeared in 18 of OU’s last 19 games.
Since 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. He was the 2005 leader in wins (9), appearances (36), innings pitched (97.1) and ranked third in strikeouts (53) and allowed just 19 walks in 384 batters faced. Savage is tied for the OU lead in appearances in a single season (36-Jeff Bajenaru, 2000 and Bucky Buckles, 1994)
McCUTCHEN PROVES TO BE OU’S ACE IN THE HOLE
Despite some early struggles, Daniel McCutchen became OU’s No. 1 starter and he proved to be one of the most consistent pitchers in the Big 12. McCutchen made his second start of the season, first since Feb. 12, against No. 1 Texas on April 15. Despite a no-decision and an OU loss, McCutchen was stellar in nine innings of five-hit ball. He also posted a season-high ten strikeouts in the game. Against No. 5 Nebraska on April 28, the hurler recorded his first win since defeating Northwestern State on March 13. In his six Big 12 regular season starts, McCutchen posted a 2-2 record and struck out 48 batters in 44.2 innings pitched. In addition, he allowed 15 runs (eight earned) on 36 hits and 11 walks. His ERA in that span was 1.61 and opponents hit just .222 off him. In his final nine outings of 2005, the Norman native had 59 strikeouts, opposite 16 walks, in 58 2/3 innings.
Freddy Rodriguez and Kody Kaiser finished the year on nine-game hitting streaks (both individual season bests), the fourth longest this season by a Sooner (Raley-13, Rohlinger-12, Caufield-11).
RODRIGUEZ OVER THE FINAL 30 GAMES
Junior Freddy Rodriguez had an up-and-down season but finished the year with the team’s third best batting average (.311). He entered the Northwestern State series on March 11 as the Sooners’ leader in batting average (.409) and had his nine game hitting streak (17 hits and 12 RBI) come to an end in the series finale. For the next 15 games the shortstop struggled, collecting just five hits in that time and on April 10 after a game with Kansas, he was batting just .248. In the last 30 games of the season, he collected the most hits (45) by any Sooner in that span. Over those 30 games, he also had two separate nine-game hitting streaks and batted .366 with 13 RBI to finish the 2005 season.
Kody Kaiser entered the final game of the year with 13 stolen bases on 13 attempts. Against No. 9 Ole Miss in the Oxford Regional, Kaiser was called out at 2B. He finished the year with 13 stolen bases, a team best. He is the first freshman to lead the team in stolen bases since Derek Wathan swiped 21 in 1996.
RALEY’S CONSECUTIVE STARTS STREAK ENDS
Junior Russell Raley has been a permanent fixture in the Sooners lineup for the last three seasons. In the series opener against Texas Tech (May 20), a streak of 111 consecutive games with a start came to an end due to soreness in his right ankle. Raley appeared in just two games (March 25 vs. Missouri and June 4 vs. Ole Miss) to finish the season. Raley started 60 games a season ago (missing just two of the first three games) and started every game this season (52) heading into the Texas Tech series. He finished 2003 with 16 straight starts and he has come off the bench in just 11 contests in his OU career. Of the 111 consecutive starts, only four did not occur at second base (2004-three starts at third and 2005-one start as DH).
On June 5, vs. Maine in the Oxford Regional, OU’s offense exploded for 11 runs on 12 hits and it marked 16th time it scored 10 or mores runs in a game in 2005. OU has also recorded 15 or more hits in 11 different games. Below is a look at the games OU has been hitting at its best, suffering only one defeat in the following games (Nevada):
|Feb. 19||E. Illinois||19||16|
|Feb. 20||E. Illinois||10||13|
|Feb. 27||W. Illinois||11||13|
|Feb. 28||W. Illinois||13||15|
|Mar. 11||NW. ST.||10||18|
|Mar. 12||NW. ST.||15||15|
|May 7||Kansas St.||10||17|
|May 17||N. Colorado||16||20|
|May 22||Texas Tech||14||14|
During the Sooners’ 2005 postseason run, junior center field Chuckie Caufield led the team in hitting with a .406 clip during the six contests. Caufield was tied for the team lead with five RBI with Freddy Rodriguez and led the squad with three home runs while finishing second in hits (9).
Caufield was also key throughout the season with his stellar play in the Sooners’ outfield as the starting centerfielder. Caufield only missed one contest in 2005 and started 56 of his 60 games played, and did so without making an error. He was the only regular starter for OU to finish the year with a 1.00 fielding percentage.
EXTRA INNING SUCCESS
After starting the season 0-3 in games played in extra frames (Northwestern State, Texas A&M and Texas), the Sooners battled back with four consecutive victories. OU’s last extra-inning triumph came against OSU on May 15 in an 11-inning affair that saw OU come out on top, 5-4. Before that, OU posted back-to-back, extra-inning victories two weekends ago against Kansas State (11 and 10 innings). The other victory in extra frames this season took place in a 2-1 pitchers’ duel against Missouri in the series opener (10 innings).
COMBINED NO-HITTER MARKS FIRST IN SCHOOL HISTORY
Six different OU pitchers saw time on the mound to strike out 11 batters and record the first combined no-hitter in school history on March 9 against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The Sooners’ pitching staff only allowed five base runners for the game on four walks and a hit batsman.
Before the game against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, six OU hurlers have thrown a complete game without allowing a hit. The last time an individual Sooner threw a no-hitter occurred when Jim Husling baffled Old Dominion in 1989.
Freshman Kevin Duke made his first career start and set the tone for the rest of the day after lasting three innings and striking out three in the process to record the win. He was followed by junior John Brownell (2.0 innings, 2 strikeouts), junior Daniel McCutchen (1.0 innings, 2 strikeouts), sophomore Ryan Mottern (1.0 innings, 2 strikeouts), junior Will Savage (1.0 innings, strikeout) and junior P.J. Sandoval (1.0 innings, strikeout) who all managed to hold the Golden Lions hitless through nine innings. The March 9 game was also the first game this season that the OU pitching staff held a team scoreless. (also shut out Texas A&M, 2-0).
2006 RECRUITING CLASS
The program announced in December the signing of 12 new talents during the early signing period which ended earlier this week. The new class is compiled mostly with players coming from two-year colleges as nine of the prospects hail from the junior college ranks. The Sooners also continued to recruit strongly within the Oklahoma high school system as they picked up three of Oklahoma’s top prep players.
The following is a brief look (in alphabetical order) at the Sooners’ 2006 incoming class, click here for more information on each player:
* Righthanded Pitcher - Merced Community College
* Righthanded Pitcher - Sacramento City Community College
*Third Baseman - Owasso (Okla.) High School -
*Lefthanded Pitcher - San Joaquin Delta Community College
*Righthanded Pitcher - Cosumnes River Community College
*Righthanded Pitcher - Modesto Junior College
*Pitcher - Edmond (Okla.) North High School
*Catcher - Norman (Okla.) High School
*Infielder - Sacramento City Community College
*Infielder - Southern Nevada Community College
*Infielder - Modesto Junior College
*Infielder - Cosumnes River Community College