Sept. 25, 2000
Norman, Okla. - The University of Oklahoma baseball team began its fall practice workouts at L. Dale Mitchell Park Monday afternoon. Twenty returning players and 22 newcomers reported to practice. Over the next five weeks, the team will be participating in daily intrasquad games and training sessions. The practices will conclude with a series of Red/White scrimmages Oct. 23-27, which are open to the public.
"We had an excellent practice for the first day," commented Head Coach Larry Cochell after practice. "Every year you anticipate having a good year and we're very excited about getting ready for the 2001 season with a solid fall practice."
The Sooners return 20 players from a team that went 41-23 last season and placed third in the Big 12 Conference regular season standings and the conference tournament. Headlining the group of returnees are All-Big 12 third baseman Jason Bartlett and 2000 Freshman All-American Austin Mix. Bartlett, a senior from Lodi, Calif., who started all 64 games in the spring, is one of only two regular returning starters in the field. Joining Bartlett is senior outfielder Jerome Godsey, who also started all 64 games in centerfield. Junior catcher Chris Haggard and senior outfielder/catcher Eliot Joyner also saw significant playing time in the field last year.
Mix, who led the team with 10 wins in 2000, leads a pitching staff that lost only three pitchers from a year ago. Eight pitchers that combined to throw for 91 percent of the starts in 2000 return, including five pitchers who totaled 78 percent of the wins.
Among the talented group of newcomers are 11 true freshmen, eight junior college transfers and three university transfers. Three of the incoming players were drafted and passed on Major League offers in the spring to become Sooners, including Matt Sorensen from Cal State Fullerton (Toronto - 42nd round) and two players from nearby Yukon (Okla.) High School, Denver Kitch (Pittsburgh - 29th) and Ryan Welborn (Seattle - 41st).