April 26, 2001

A CLOSER LOOK AT OKLAHOMA

Oklahoma Steps Out of Conference For Weekend Series

Oklahoma (16-28-1) takes a break from Big 12 Conference action this weekend when Centenary (22-33-1) comes to town for a three-game set. The series with the Gents begins Friday night at 7 p.m. at L. Dale Mitchell Park. Saturday's game starts at 2 p.m. and the series finale is scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m. Oklahoma baseball collapsible sports bottles will be given away to the first 500 fans through the gate on Saturday.

The Sooners continue to hold their ground in the Big 12 Conference standings. After going 1-1-1 last weekend versus No. 30 Texas Tech, Oklahoma stands in sole possession of seventh place in the league standings.

Last Time Out

Oklahoma and Oral Roberts engaged in a pitcher's duel Tuesday night in game two of the Tulsa World Baseball Bash with ORU ending up on top, 3-2. ORU starter Michael Rogers improved his flawless record to 10-0 on the season by tossing a complete game and holding the Sooners to only four hits and one earned run. OU starter Rocky Cherry also tossed a gem as he held the Golden Eagles to three hits through six innings of work, including carrying a one-hitter through 4.2 frames, but ended up with the loss to drop his record to 6-6.

With the start, Cherry tied OU's all-time appearances record with 68 career outings. The record is also held by Casey Mendenhall who pitched for Oklahoma from 1990-1992.

Cherry ran into trouble in the sixth inning when he walked the bases loaded and ORU third baseman Doug Bernier (1-for-2) nailed a two-run single with two outs to plate the winning runs. Only two runs charged to the junior hurler were earned as he also ended the game with a season-high seven strikeouts.

At The Plate

As a team, Oklahoma is batting .294 with 34 home runs and 236 RBIs ... In Big 12 Conference games, the squad is hitting .304 with 18 home runs and 120 RBIs ... As of April 23, OU stood in fifth place in the Big 12 in hitting and in conference games only ... OU has pounded out the fifth-most home runs of all the team's in the league ... The team's leading hitter over the last week was senior leftfielder Greg Dobbs ...Dobbs batted .400 (8-for-20) over five games with five runs scored and four RBIs ... Freshmen Denver Kitch and Matt Fisher were two of the team's hottest hitters last week ... Kitch hit at a .364 clip over four games last week, while Fisher batted .300 in five contests ... Fisher is currently riding a seven-game hitting streak ... Fisher is batting .407 (11-for-27) with three RBIs over the seven-game stretch ... Among the Big 12 Conference leaders: Dobbs - batting average (second), hits (t-second), RBIs (fifth), doubles (t-sixth), total bases (third), on base percentage (t-eighth) and slugging percentage (10th), Jerome Godsey - batting average (15th) and hits (t-seventh), Sean Smith - batting average (20th), Charlie Frasier - home runs (t-sixth).

On The Mound

The Sooner pitching staff is currently sporting a 5.34 ERA and has allowed 233 earned runs in 392.1 innings pitched ... In Big 12 Conference games only, the staff owns a 5.48 ERA with 126 earned runs given up in 207.0 innings pitched ... As of April 23, OU stood in ninth place in the Big 12 in staff ERA and eighth in league games only ... Junior Rocky Cherry registered back-to-back season-high strikeout performances in his last two starts last week ... Cherry eclipsed his high from last Friday by striking out seven on Tuesday night versus ORU ... Among the Big 12 Conference leaders: Austin Mix - strikeouts (third), innings pitched (seventh) and games started (t-second), Mark Roberts - saves (t-ninth) and appearances (t-third), Austin Coose - appearances (t-sixth), Brandon Hankins - appearances (t-sixth).

DIAMOND NOTES

* Only two of OU's seven losses this month have been by more than a three-run margin.

* OU incurred its first tie on Sunday versus No. 30 Texas Tech for the first time since 1980 when OU tied Cameron University, 9-9, in Norman.

* OU's 6-5 win Saturday night snapped a six-game losing skid to the Red Raiders at L. Dale Mitchell Park dating back to 1997.

* Oklahoma batted over the .300 mark for the week and during the Texas Tech series.

* OU used clutch hitting to score five of its seven runs with two outs on Sunday versus TTU.

* Oklahoma's defense enjoyed two errorless games in the Texas Tech series. OU committed only one error over the three-game set for a .991 weekend fielding percentage.

* The Sooner offense has produced 11 double-digit hit performances in the last 15 games.

* The team was 11-for-13 in the stolen base department last week. Senior leftfielder Greg Dobbs and freshman rightfielder Denver Kitch were both perfect in the category for the week with 4-for-4 and 3-for-3 efforts, respectively.

* Sophomore righthander Austin Mix registered a double-digit strikeout performance for the second-consecutive start with 10 K's on Sunday versus No. 30 Texas Tech.

MORE ON OKLAHOMA

OU's All-Time Appearance Leader

Junior Rocky Cherry tied Oklahoma's all-time appearances record of 68 with his 16th start of the season Tuesday night against Oral Roberts. The outing tied Casey Mendenhall who owned the record for eight years. Cherry will have the opportunity to establish a new record later this week with a possible weekend start against Centenary.

The righthander has averaged 26 appearances over his first two seasons with the Sooners and his 31 outings last season stand as fourth-best on the school's single-season appearances list.

Turning It On At The End

The month of April has been good to the Sooners. Entering this month, OU had a 10-21 record and a 5-9 mark in Big 12 Conference competition. Since the beginning of April the Sooners have compiled a 6-7-1 record and a 5-4-1 mark in Big 12 action. In Oklahoma's seven losses, only two have been by more than a two-run margin.

Offensively, the squad is batting 12 points higher for the month than its current season average of .294 and have collected double-digit hit performances in 10 of the 14 games. Six of the nine players in the starting lineup are also hitting above the .300 mark during April.

On the mound, the pitching staff has combined for a 4.90 ERA and are only allowing opponents to bat .281 against them.

Freshman Ironman

Freshman Mark Roberts has been one of Oklahoma's most durable pitchers this season. Roberts, the team's designated closer, currently leads the staff in appearances with 22, a total that also places him in a tie for third in the Big 12 Conference. The last time a Sooner freshman led the team in appearances was in 1989 when Kevin King racked up 27 outings in his first year. Roberts is also four outings shy of entering the school's top-10 single-season appearance list.

Roberts has also been one of OU's most successful pitchers, too. The righthander, who has three saves on the season, owns the staff's lowest ERA at 3.96 and top strikeout-to-walk ratio at 3:1.

King Injury Update

Bryan King, the Sooners' starting leftfielder prior to suffering a knee injury during the Texas A&M series, had successful reconstructive knee surgery last week. The surgery, which was performed at the Oklahoma City Surgery Center by team doctor Don McGinnis, repaired a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and a damaged meniscus. The Bethany, Okla., native has already begun a six-month rehabilitation period to aid in his recovery.

King, a senior who saw action in only 21 games, and the university have applied to receive a medical redshirt year in hopes of returning to action for the 2002 season. A decision in the appeal is not expected until this summer.