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No. 21 Sooners Head to No. 11 Arizona State
March 17, 2006

NORMAN, Okla. -- Riding an eight-game winning streak, the No. 21 OU baseball team will hit the road this weekend against No. 11 Arizona State for a three-game series.  Friday’s series opener is scheduled for 7 p.m. (MT) and will be followed by games on Saturday (6 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.). 

The series has been dominated by the Sun Devils, who have won four out of the last five games and own a 48-19 advantage.  The last time OU defeated ASU was during the 2004 Coca-Cola Classic Spring Tournament in Surprise, Ariz.  In that game on Feb. 15, the Sooners topped the Sun Devils 6-0.  In addition, OU has lost five straight games at Packard Stadium, with the last victory coming on March 14, 2003.  OU edged then-No. 1 ASU by a 6-5 score.

MEDIA EXPOSURE
All three of this weekend’s  games against Arizona State will be broadcast live on the Sooners’ flagship station, KOKC (1520 AM) with Chuck Kelly calling the play-by-play.  Pregame coverage for all Sooner baseball games, begins 15 minutes prior to first pitch.  In addition, live stats for all games this season can be viewed on Soonersports.com.

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

UPDATING THE SOONERS
Earlier this week, the Sooners won their eighth straight game on Tuesday with a 8-0 shutout at UT-Arlington.  It was the first time the Mavericks had been shut out this season and the game marked the fourth shutout for OU in 2006.

The OU offense gave starter Ryan Mottern (2-1) plenty of run support after scoring three runs in the second inning, four in the fourth frame and one more tally in the sixth inning.  OU collected nine hits in the game opposite UTA’s five.

Mottern was solid for the second straight start, as he established a career high in strikeouts with seven.  Last Tuesday in Forth Worth, Texas, Mottern sat down five TCU batters to top his previous high of four.  Against UTA, Mottern lasted five innings and allowed just three hits and one walk. 

Ryan Rohlinger and Chuckie Caufield led the Sooners on Tuesday with two hits apiece.  Rohlinger had a game-high three RBI while Caufield drove in one run.  The Sooners’ bullpen, consisting of Nate Hammons, Joseph Hughes, Jimmy Rollins and Chris Henry combined to limit the Mavs to two hits, while striking out three batters.

SCOUTING ARIZONA STATE
The Sun Devils enter this weekend with a 17-6 record and they have won 12 of their last 14 games.  The only two losses in that span have come on the road and against Big 12 teams. 

In its last outing, ASU dropped an 11-6 contest at No. 16 Texas.  The loss ended a seven-game winning streak which started after they lost the finale in a three-game series against Baylor, 5-3.  ASU is 3-2 against Big 12 teams this season, defeating Baylor twice and Texas Tech once.

-Offensively, freshman Ike Davis leads the team with 34 RBI and is tied for the team lead in home runs with three (Eric Sogard).  In addition, Davis is batting .337 and two of his three homers are grand slams.

-Davis is also expected to get the starting nod on the mound Friday.  In his last start, Davis gave up two earned runs on three hits and two walks over 3 1/3 innings against then-No. 1 Rice.  The left-hander did not get the decision and is 2-2 this season with a 5.88 ERA.  He has struck out 31 and walked 17 batters in 33 2/3 innings this season.

The last time OU faced a left-handed starter was on Tuesday against UT Arlington.  The Sooners chased Austin Bridges out of the game after two innings after he allowed three runs on four hits and one walk.  OU is hitting .385 versus left-handed pitching this season.

-ASU is coached by Pat Murphy, who is in his 12th season at the Sun Devils’ helm and is 460-227-1 (.670) in that span.   He led ASU to a 42-25 record last year and a third-place finish in the Pacific-10 Conference.  Returning from last year’s team that finished third at the College World Series are 20 letterwinners and eight position starters.

-ASU owns a 48-19 advantage in the all-time series.  The Sooners and Sun Devils met four times last season and ASU won all four meetings, three of which were contested at Packard Stadium.  The other game was the second game of 2005 for the Sooners, a 7-5 defeat at the Coca-Cola Classic Spring Tournament.

PLAYER TO WATCH - DANIEL McCUTCHEN

Daniel McCutchen
The Sooners’ ace is 4-2 this year and has been solid in his last three starts.  In games against Memphis, UC Riverside and Centenary, the Norman native has 25 strikeouts over 25 innings pitched opposite five walks.  The hurlers' 38 punch outs ranks second in the Big 12 and McCutchen leads the Big 12 in shutouts (1) and complete games (2).

WHO’S NEXT
After the series at Arizona State, OU will return home to begin an eight-game home stand.  The action begins with the Big 12 opener and the first of three games against Baylor on March 24 at L. Dale Mitchell Park.  The three-game set will be heard live on KOKC (1520 AM) unless there is a conflict with the men’s and women’s basketball teams participating in the NCAA Tournament.  In the case of a conflict, the games can be heard on the Internet via Yahoo.

TOP 25
For the first time since April 19, 2004, the Oklahoma baseball team was ranked in each of the four major polls in collegiate baseball.  For the third consecutive week, OU was ranked in the top 30 by both Collegiate Baseball magazine and the National Collegiate Baseball Writer’s (NCBWA) polls.  The Sooners were as high as No. 23 in the Collegiate Baseball poll released on March 6 and moved up two spots this week.  OU is also No. 21 in the NCBWA poll (up five spots) and is ranked No. 24 in both the USA Today/ESPN and Baseball America polls as announced on March 13. 

WINNING STREAK
The Sooners are currently riding a season-high, eight-game winning streak thanks to good hitting and solid pitching.  During the seven games, OU is hitting .338 as a team with 22 doubles, six home runs and 62 RBI.  Ryan Rohlinger leads the offensive charge during the streak, with a .467 batting average, four doubles, three homers and 12 RBI.  Additionally, the pitching staff has a 2.96 ERA, allowing 24 earned runs over 73 IP on 67 hits and 28 walks.  The hurlers have struck out 64 batters in the span.  Steven Guerra (0.75 ERA) Ryan Mottern (2.70 ERA) and Daniel McCutchen (2.20 ERA) are all 2-0 during the winning streak.

EXTRA BASE HITS
The Sooners have recorded two or more extra base hits in all but four games this season (LBSU, Memphis, Indiana State and game one vs. UC Riverside).  The Sooners’ season high for extra base hits in a game is six.  That feat has been accomplished three times this season against UTPA (2 2B, 1 3B, HR), game two of the Western Illinois series (4 2B, 2 3B) and UT-Arlington (4 2B, 1 3B and HR).

OFFENSIVE PRODUCTION
Although early in the season, the 17-4 Sooners have proven that they are an offensive team after recording 10 or more hits in 14 of its 21 games.  Additionally, the Sooner offense has scored double-digit runs on seven occasions this season (UTPA, WIU-twice, Lamar-Feb. 18, TCU and Centenary-twice).  OU is averaging 7.85 runs a game and 11 hits  per game in 2006.   Additionally, eight different Sooners are hitting .300 or better (min. 30 at-bats) and seven sluggers have 10 or more RBI, including four with 17-plus (Caufield, Reza, Rohlinger, and Smith).

TRUE ROAD GAMES
Even though OU is 8-3 away from L. Dale Mitchell Park, it is only 3-1 in “true” road games this season.  In the UTPA Classic, the Sooners defeated the host Broncs 16-3 and in the Coca Cola Classic, OU dropped an 8-2 decision to then-No. 5 Rice.  Most recently, the Sooners topped UT-Arlington on Tuesday and defeated TCU last week in a mid-week game.  OU is 5-2 in the remaining games, all neutral sites, falling only to Memphis and Lamar (Feb. 5).

HOME STANDS
The Sooners ended their second longest home stand of the season of four games after the UC Riverside series.  OU finished 3-1 during the stretch and is 9-1 overall this season at L. Dale Mitchell Park.  The Sooners’ longest home stand (eight games) will begin next weekend when Baylor (March 24-26) comes to town for three games.  That series is followed by Dallas Baptist (March 28) in a mid-week contest, Texas for a three-game set (March 31-April 2) and concludes with UT-Arlington (April 4).

GOING THE DISTANCE
The Sooners’ offense held the spotlight early in the season, but the starting rotation has been even more impressive.  Seniors Daniel McCutchen, Steven Guerra and P.J. Sandoval have started six games apiece so far in 2006 and have made each start last five innings or more on all but one occasion (2 1/3 innings for Sandoval on Feb. 5 vs. Lamar).  Guerra has pitched six innings or more five times this season, while McCutchen has gone six-plus innings four times and Sandoval has two start over six innings.  In the Sooners’ two mid-week games this season, Ryan Mottern lasted three innings in his first start and five frames in each of the following starts (TCU and UTA).

BULLPEN VS. STARTERS
The four-man rotation of Daniel McCutchen, Steven Guerra, P.J. Sandoval and Ryan Mottern are a combined 15-4 this season with an ERA of 3.52.  The Sooners’ bullpen consisting of 10 pitchers is 2-0 with six saves and a 5.40 ERA.  Additionally, the Sooners’ starters account for 62 percent of the team’s strikeouts (96/154) and 53 percent of the team’s walks (31/54).   Finally, teams are hitting .241 against the four starters and .294 against the bullpen.
 
SMALL BALL
The 2006 Sooners are proving to be a team that has options on offense.  As the team ranks second in the Big 12 in RBI (151) and runs scored (165), tied for second in hits (229) and fourth in batting average (.324) this season, it has also shown that productive outs are as important as power.  OU has shown its ability to be successful as a  “small-ball” lineup that can bunt, run and advance runners.  In addition to the power numbers listed above, the Sooners also lead the Big 12 in sacrifices (28-for-30) and they have executed five squeeze bunts out of six, resulting in five runs scored from third base.  OU is also third in the conference in stolen bases (33).

CONSISTENT POSITION STARTERS
OU has used numerous different starting lineups this season, featuring two or more players at every position except right field.   Chuckie Caufield has started all 21 games in right field and is the only Sooner to start every game in 2006.  In addition, Caufield has hit in the leadoff spot in all but three games this season.  The only Sooner close to Caufield’s consistency in the lineup is Kevin Smith.  Smith is the only other Sooner to play in every game this season and he has started 20 games, all at first base.

BEDLAM BASEBALL TICKETS ON SALE
Bedlam baseball tickets for the two games to be played in Oklahoma City at the AT&T Bricktown Ballpark went on sale Wednesday, March 8.   Tickets for the series opener in Tulsa will go on sale March 18.  

On Friday versus Arizona State, the Sooners will look for its first nine-game winning streak since April 2000.  The last time an OU team won 11 or 12 games in-a-row was during the Sooners 12-0 start to the 1998 season.

SOLID START
The 2006 Sooners are off to one of the best starts in the program’s last 30 years.  Since 1976, only the 1981 and 1985 Sooners (20-1) held a better mark after the first 21 games of the season.  Additionally, the 1984 team also started off its respective season at 17-4.  The 2006 version of the Sooners will hope to finish as successfully as those teams.  In those three years, each team finished with 40-plus wins; 1981 (40-15), 1984 (42-15) and 1985 (55-14).

SHUTTING OUT THE OPPOSITION
OU is tied with Texas A&M in the Big 12 with four shutouts this season.  The Sooners have blanked Western Illinois (14-0), UC Riverside (1-0), Centenary (12-0) and UT-Arlington (8-0) in 2006.  The Sooners only recorded two shutouts all of last season and the last time an OU squad posted four shutouts in a season was during the 1994 campaign, which saw OU win its second National Championship.  The last time a Sooner team posted five shutouts was in 1992 and the record for most shutouts in a season is 18.  That was achieved twice in OU history (1976 and 1973).

BEST IN THE BIG 12
The Sooners knew heading into 2006 that the defense would be solid with all but one position starter returning from 2005.  So far after 21 games, OU owns the best fielding percentage in the Big 12 (.986) and has turned the most double plays (21) of any school in the conference.

OU AGAINST RANKED COMPETITION
The Sooners have faced four teams this season ranked in one of the four major polls in collegiate baseball (USA Today/Sports Weekly, Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball and NCBWA).  OU is 2-2 in those contests, topping Long Beach State (20, 19, 15, 11) and Notre Dame (NR, NR, 22, 27) and falling to Rice (4, 5,4, 2) and Wichita State (NR, NR, 28, 24).  The Sooners will also face eight more teams ranked in this week’s polls (Arizona State, Baylor, Texas, Kansas, Kansas State, Rice, Wichita State and Nebraska) later on this season, combining for 20 of their final 35 regular season games.  (All rankings listed were taken at the time of competition).

SCORING EARLY AND OFTEN
OU is ranked second in the Big 12 in runs scored with 165 and it has recorded 72 percent of those tallies in the second through six innings this season.  The Sooners have crossed the plate 119 times in those five innings, including 29 times in the sixth frame alone.  Additionally, OU has scored first in all but four of its games this season (Texas State, Rice, Indiana State and Centenary-3) and is 14-3 when it posts the game’s first run, suffering losses to Wichita State, Lamar on Feb. 5 and Memphis.

CHART CLIMBERS

Will Savage
Senior hurlers Daniel McCutchen and Will Savage rank in the top ten on OU’s career saves list.  With five saves this season, Savage sits alone in the No. 4 spot.  Below is a look at where Savage and McCutchen rank all-time:

1. 28 - Jeff Bajenaru (1999-2000)
2. 17 - Jarod McAuliff (2002-04)
3. 14 - Bucky Buckles (1994)
4. 10 - Will Savage (2005-present)
5. 9 - Scott Dean (1981-82)
6. 8 - Geoff Geary (1997-98)
7. 7 - Daniel McCutchen (2004-present) 
    7 - George Frazier (1975-76)
    7 - Matt Ruebel (1989-00)
    7 - Scott Girod (1990)
    7 - Scott Moore (1991-92)

PRESEASON PREDICTIONS
In the Big 12 Coaches’ preseason poll, the Oklahoma Sooners were picked to finish fifth in the league, the highest prediction since being tabbed third in 2003.  In addition, Collegiate Baseball picked OU to finish fifth and Baseball America has the Sooners finishing seventh in the conference. 

In addition to the preseason rankings within the Big 12, Baseball America tabbed Ryan Rohlinger as an All-Big 12 pick and Daniel McCutchen as one of the conference’s top 2006 prospects and Brad Burns was picked for the 2007 draft.

Finally, Collegiate Baseball named McCutchen, Rohlinger, Kody Kaiser and Will Savage as “players to watch” within the Big 12.

SOONERSPORTS.COM SPECIAL FEATURE
Click here for an article brought to SoonerSports.com from Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, a national baseball publication that has been covering the sport since 1958.  The feature story was printed last month in the Jan. 6 issue and spotlights the amazing story of how OU sophomore Kody Kaiser and his uncle, OU head coach Sunny Golloway, were brought together at the University of Oklahoma.

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

5:30 p.m.

ESPNU

Sunday, April 2

Texas

1 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.

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, 17-4 (.810)

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. 

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

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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