Sooners Open Season In Arizona

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
FEBRUARY 10, 2005

The Oklahoma Sooners open the 2005 season with play in the Coca-Cola Classic Spring College Baseball Tournament against Gonzaga on Friday, Feb. 11, in Surprise, Ariz.  First pitch is slated for 4 p.m.  at the Surprise Stadium.  Saturday’s action against Arizona State will begin at 5 p.m. and the contest against South Alabama on Sunday is scheduled for a noon start.  All times listed are CST.

Saturday and Sunday's games of the tournament will be broadcast on the Sooners’ new radio home this year, KOKC (1520 AM). The OU baseball program welcomes one of its own, Chuck Kelly, as its new play-by-play commentator.  All three of the games can also be heard on Oklahoma’s official web site  Fans wishing to listen to the broadcasts must subscribe to the O-Zone, the site’s premium content section.

Radio Affiliates | Live Internet Audio | Weekly Release (PDF)

Record: 1-2 | Rankings: NA

The Bulldogs are coached by Mark Machtolf, who in his first season guided the team to a 24-27 mark  in 2004 and a second place finish in the West Coast Conference.  So far in 2005, Gonzaga is 1-2 after last weekend’s Bob Schaefer Memorial Tournament (Tempe, Ariz.).  GU lost to Arizona State and New Mexico and was led by right-hander Josh Monroe in their lone win over Oregon State.  The Sooners are 1-1 against Gonzaga with the lone victory coming in Cochell’s first year as OU’s skipper.  The Sooners topped the Bulldogs 4-1 in the 1991 Spartan Classic played in San Jose, Calif. 

2005 Leading Pitcher: Junior RHP Josh Monroe (1-0, 0.0 ERA, 6 IP, 3 H, 6 SO)
2005 Leading Hitter: Junior Catcher Kiel Thibault (.400 BA, 3 RBI)

Record: 4-3 | Rankings: (NCBWA - No. 17, ESPN/Coaches - No. 13, Baseball America - No. 12)

The Sun Devils are coached by Pat Murphy in his 11th season at the helm of the ASU program.  In 10 years, he has compiled a 401-196-1 record and led ASU to a 41-18 mark in 2004 to accompany its fourth place finish in the Pac-10 (13-11).  The Sun Devils, after dropping two of their first three games of 2005, are averaging nearly 10 runs a game in the last four contests, in which they went 3-1.  ASU leads the all-time series with OU, 18-39, but under Cochell the Sooners are 13-12 after defeating then-No. 7 Arizona State, 6-0, in the 2004 Coca-Cola Classic. 

2005 Leading Pitcher: Junior LHP Erik Averill  (1-1, 2.08 ERA, 13 IP, 16 H, 20 SO)
2005 Leading Hitter: Sophomore OF Colin Curtis (.414, 10 RBI)

Record: 0-0 | Rankings: NA)

The Jaguars are coached by Steve Kittrell, who has coached all but one of his 22 years as a head coach at South Alabama.  South Alabama is 828-459-1 under Kittrell and the club was 30-28 in 2004 and won the Sun Belt Conference’s regular season title.  Pitching looks to be a strength for the Jaguars as they return the Sun Belt Freshman of the Year, P.J Walters.  He is coming off a season that saw him go 10-1 with a 4.23 ERA and pitch in 119 innings.  Also returning for South Alabama are Jeramy Simmons (9-4, 4.76 ERA, 98.1 IP), Joey Doan (4-8, 5.38 ERA, 97.1 IP) and Tommie Majors, who was redshirted in 2004 but had nine wins two seasons ago.  In the five all-time series, the Sooners own a 3-2 advantage (all under Cochell).
2005 Baseball Season Preview

Head Coach Larry Cochell
The Sooners are an impressive 13-1 under coach Cochell on opening day.  The one defeat came in last year’s season opener against Gonzaga in the Coca-Cola Classic. Following are some other notes of interest about opening day under Cochell:
* OU has compiled a 30-5 record over their opening weekend series.
* Oklahoma has recorded five shutouts.
* OU has only been taken into extra frames once in 2001 when the Sooners’ emerged with a 4-3 victory over Oklahoma City in 11 innings.
* One of the most significant victories during this span was when the 1999 squad knocked off then-second ranked Georgia Tech, 12-0, in their second game of the ACC Disney Baseball Bash in Orlando, Fla.

There are many ways to measure the success of a collegiate head baseball coach - and Larry Cochell has spent the last 38 years of his life establishing the standard in every category. Although it is easy to point to Oklahoma’s 1994 national championship as the crown jewel of his coaching career, even that accomplishment does not completely define the impact Cochell has had on the Sooner baseball program and the national collegiate baseball scene.

With a career record of 1,307-794-3 (511-336-1 at OU), Cochell is beginning his 15th season as the University of Oklahoma’s head baseball coach ranked sixth on the list of wins by active Division I head coaches and eighth all-time.  Cochell is also one of only six active coaches and one of nine coaches in NCAA history with over 1,300 career wins.

Following the 1990 season, Cochell undertook the task of continuing the tradition of excellence that is baseball at the University of Oklahoma. And in only 14 years in Norman, Cochell has returned OU to college baseball’s elite with nine NCAA tournament appearances, three College World Series appearances, a national championship in 1994 and the inaugural Big 12 Conference Tournament championship in 1997. 

With 511 Sooner victories, Cochell stands second all-time at OU behind Enos Semore (851 in 21 years) in career wins.  He was the fastest coach at the school to reach the 400-win plateau.  It also marked the second time in his accomplished career that he had racked up 400 victories at an institution as he amassed 428 wins in 10 seasons at Oral Roberts (1977-86).

In his 14 years at the helm, Cochell has guided numerous Oklahoma players to national recognition, including 13 players who achieved 18 All-America honors, four Freshman All-Americans and 13 players who turned in 15 all-district performances.  On the conference scene, OU has produced 71 all-conference and 68 academic all-conference selections during Cochell’s tenure.

OU was picked seventh in the Big 12 Conference Coaches’ Preseason Poll as released by the league office. OU received 37 points in the poll, two points shy of sixth place Texas Tech.  The Sooners were picked to finish sixth last season and ended the regular season a half game behind first place Texas.

2004 Season Review | 2004 Cumulative Statistics

The Longhorns again topped the list for the third straight year with 81 points, including nine first place votes. Oklahoma State was the only other team to receive a first place vote as they finished in third place behind Texas A&M. 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.

“The preseason polls are just a guess on how people think the teams will finish and nobody really knows how the season will play out at this point in the year,” commented OU head coach Larry Cochell.  “I am a little surprised on where we were picked but it will not have any effect on the season.  Regardless of where the preseason poll has us, we expect to contend for a Big 12 Championship.”

Despite the ranking, the Sooners’ prospects for the season look bright. OU’s incoming class was ranked as the tenth-best in the country in September by Collegiate Baseball.  It marked the second consecutive season that Cochell’s class was ranked by the publication in the top ten (2004 class was ranked ninth). This year’s highly-touted class includes eight individuals that have been drafted at some point in their careers. 

2005 Big 12 Conference Coaches' Preseason Poll

Rank/School (First Place Votes) Points
1. Texas (9) 81
2. Texas A&M 70
3. Oklahoma State (1) 62
4. Baylor 55
5. Nebraska 50
6. Texas Tech 39
7. Oklahoma 37
8. Missouri 30
9. Kansas 15
10. Kansas State 11

* Points based on nine for first place, eight for second, etc. 

Fans traveling to Sooner baseball games on the road will be able to listen to the Sooner Sports Network radio broadcast on “Road Radio”. At each site, fans using a regular Walkman radio may tune in to a special FM frequency to hear the play-by-play of the game. The frequency (93.9 FM) will be announced at the ballpark and will be available on the web site for future games.

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.

“We’re extremely excited about our new Sooners that we have coming in,” commented OU head coach Larry Cochell. “We feel like we signed to our needs without over recruiting.”

Another strong emphasis in the class was on pitching as the Sooners recruited seven hurlers to prepare for the potential loss of both current and recruited pitchers to the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft next year.

“We will lose a significant amount of innings off this pitching staff, so we felt like we needed to prepare for that scenario.  Also in the signing of these pitchers we realize that we probably are not going to be able to keep all of them because of the professional baseball draft,” continued Cochell.

Click the following link fora more detailed look (in alphabetical order) at the Sooners’ 2006 incoming class.



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