Feb. 28, 2001

A CLOSER LOOK AT OKLAHOMA

Sooners Begin Eight Game Homestand

Oklahoma starts an eight game homestand at L. Dale Mitchell Park this weekend beginning with a three-game set versus Northwestern. The series kicks off Friday afternoon at 3 p.m., continues Saturday at 2 p.m. and concludes Sunday at 1 p.m.

OU is scheduled to face two non-conference foes, Northwestern and Creighton, for five games before beginning Big 12 Conference action again against Texas A&M, March 9-11.

Last Time Out

Oklahoma swept both games of a Sunday doubleheader from Kansas, 4-3 and 10-4, to complete a three-game sweep in its Big 12 Conference opening series at L. Dale Mitchell Park. The sweep marked the first time OU has swept KU in a three-game series since 1997.

Oklahoma fought back in the ninth inning from a 3-1 deficit in the first game. Junior designated hitter Charlie Frasier (2-for-4) and senior catcher Sean Smith (1-for-2) led off the Sooners' half of the ninth with consecutive singles. Both baserunners were advanced on a sacrifice bunt by junior rightfielder Zach Harris (0-for-3) and then driven home on triple by senior leftfielder Bryan King (1-for-4) to tie the game. Junior shortstop Sergio Garcia (1-for-4) then delivered a game-winning single to score King.

In game two, the Sooner offense exploded with 10 runs, five on three home runs, while four OU hurlers held KU to only four runs on four hits. Senior centerfielder Jerome Godsey (3-for-4) led off the bottom of the first inning with a solo homer to get the Sooners on the scoreboard early. Trailing Kansas 4-1 in the third frame, Oklahoma spotted four runs in the inning, three on a home run by Frasier (1-for-4), to claim the lead in the game for good.

Senior righthander Austin Coose evened his record at 1-1 on the season with the win in game one, while senior righty Matt Sorensen (1-2) picked up the victory in game two.

At The Plate

As a team, Oklahoma is batting .295 with 15 home runs and 76 RBIs ... The Sooners' batting average raised 15 points after their weekend performance against the Jayhawks ... As of Feb. 27, OU ranked fourth in the Big 12 Conference in batting average and first in conference only games ... Oklahoma batted .347 (35-for-101) during the Kansas series ... OU outscored KU 24-16 ... OU hit four home runs this weekend, including two by junior designated hitter Charlie Frasier ... Frasier leads all Sooners with five homers ... Oklahoma is being out-scored 77-92 and out-hit 130-140 by the opposition ... Junior shortstop Sergio Garcia belted his first career home run in game two against Kansas on Sunday ... The home run gives the Sooners eight different players that have hit roundtrippers so far this season ... The accomplishment also established that eight out of the nine regular starters have hit home runs ... Second baseman Matt Fisher is the only starter that has failed to hit a home run ... Senior first baseman Greg Dobbs was the team's leading hitter last week ... Dobbs hit at a .588 clip (10-for-17) and scored four runs while driving in four more ... Dobbs also posted multi-hit performances in all four games last week.

On The Mound

The Sooner pitching staff is currently sporting a 5.40 ERA and has allowed 68 earned runs in 113.1 innings pitched ... As of Feb. 27, OU ranked ninth in the Big 12 Conference in ERA and fourth in conference only games ... The staff's ERA dropped 23 points during the Kansas series ... OU has struck out 82 batters while issuing 52 walks ... Oklahoma is allowing opponents to hit .300 against them ... Seven different pitchers have received starting assignments ... The bullpen has given up 13 unearned runs and allowed eight inherited runners to score ... The bullpen is responsible for all five victories on the season ... Righty Austin Mix leads all hurlers with 26 strikeouts ... Mix struck out 10 batters in his last start ... The sophomore also owns a 5.2:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Weekend Jump Start

Oklahoma opened Big 12 Conference play and ended its seven-game losing streak with a three-game sweep over Kansas last weekend. The Sooner offense batted .347 during the series and scored four runs and belted four home runs, while the pitching staff posted a .467 ERA, fanned 26 batters and held the Jayhawk hitters to a .263 batting average.

OU's fielding continued to improve as they committed only four errors over the three-game set, including their first errorless game of the season in the series finale, after registering 17 errors the previous weekend.

Surprise Performer

Senior Sean Smith, who joined the 2001 squad in the fall after being absent from college baseball for the last two years, has become one of the team's top performers. Smith has started seven of the last eight games, four as the designated hitter and his last three starts have been in the catcher's role.

Smith is currently the team's third best hitter for average with a .333 mark. On the season, the Coppell, Texas, native has scored four runs and driven in four more, including his first career home run.

As the team's catcher, Smith is hitting at a .375 clip (3-for-8) with two runs scored and has thrown out 2-of-4 runners attempting to steal. In the designated hitter role, Smith batted .308 (4-for-13) with a home run and four RBIs. Smith was also the team's second-leading RBI producer over the four-game span.

DIAMOND NOTES

* Tuesday's contest at TCU was rained out and rescheduled for March 21. OU has endured four rain outs already this season, including once each three out of the last four weekends.

* Oklahoma swept Kansas in a three-game series last weekend for the first time since 1997.

* The sweep marks the second consecutive year that the Sooners have opened Big 12 Conference play with a sweep. Oklahoma defeated Kansas State in three games last year to begin league play.

* OU played its first errorless contest of the season on Sunday by not committing an error in the second game of the doubleheader against KU.

* Through the first 13 games of the 2001 season, the Sooners have swiped 20 bases in 28 attempts. In comparison, the 2000 squad was 21-of-28 in stolen bases through 13 games.

* The Sooners improved to 5-1 on the season at home and 2-2 in doubleheader action on the year.

* Designated hitter Charlie Frasier played a major role in all three comebacks against KU over the weekend. The junior accounted for the decisive game-winning home run in the 10-9 OU win in the series opener, singled and scored a run in the Sooners' three-run ninth inning comeback in game one on Sunday and belted a three-run homer to give Oklahoma the lead for good in game two when they trailed 4-2.

AT THE PLATE: NORTHWESTERN

Scouting The Wildcats

Northwestern enters this weekend's series with a 6-5 record after dropping three of its last four contests. The Wildcats picked up an 8-0 shutout victory over Eastern Michigan in its last game.

The team has competed in two weekend tournaments prior to travelling to Norman. The 'Cats found their most success in the Arizona Tournament (Feb. 15-18) where they went 3-2 and racked up wins against Kansas (5-4), St. Mary's College (3-0) and Northern Iowa (5-3).

As a team, Northwestern is hitting at a .259 clip and have belted three home runs and collected 44 RBIs. Although the Wildcats have registered as many hits as their opponents, the 'Cats are being outscored 51-45. The offense has relied upon a wealth of extra-base hits including 18 doubles and five triples.

Four pitchers have accounted for 10 starts of the 'Cats 11 games. The staff sports a 3.94 ERA and has struck out 88 batters in 91.1 innings pitched. The staff is also holding its opposition to a .256 batting average.

Northwestern's Probable Starting Rotation

The following is a rundown of the Wildcats probable starting rotation for this weekend:

Zach Schara - Jr., RHP, Madison, Wis. - Schara is tied for the team lead in starts at three with fellow righty Mike Nall ... Owns a 1-1 record and a 4.05 ERA ... Suffered a 12-2 loss to McNeese State in his last start ... Also tied with Nall for the staff lead in innings pitched at 20.0 ... Holding opponents to a .214 batting average ... Fanned 20 batters while issuing eight walks ... Responsible for three of the staff's six home runs surrendered on the season ... Led all pitchers in wins (8), ERA (3.06 ERA) and strikeouts (95) in 2000.

Gabe Ribas - Jr., RHP, Brunswick, Maine - Has compiled a 1-2 record in three appearances, including two starts, on the season ... Owner of a 4.60 ERA ... Has struck out 18 and given up 18 hits in 15.2 innings of work this season ... Opponents are hitting .265 against him ... Was the pitcher of record in his last appearance, an 8-0 loss to Southwest Missouri State ... Second to Schara on the team last year in wins (7), ERA (3.40 ERA) and strikeouts (69).

Mike Nall - Sr., RHP, Schaumburg, Ill. - The 'Cats most dominating pitcher to start the season ... A perfect 2-0 on the year ... His 1.35 ERA ranks second-best among all starters ... Owns the team's only complete game ... Tied for the team lead with Zach Schara in innings pitched with 20.0 ... Has surrendered only three earned runs, while striking out a staff-best 24 batters ... Holding opponents to a staff-low .197 batting average.