NORMAN, Okla. - The University of Oklahoma baseball team, ranked No. 28 (NCBWA) and No. 29 (Collegiate Baseball), opens the 2006 season at the Texas-Pan American Tournament in Edinburg, Texas, on Friday, Feb. 3 against Texas State. First pitch against the Bobcats is scheduled for 11 a.m. inside Edinburg Stadium.
Tournament action continues on Saturday with host UTPA at 7 p.m. and the weekend will come to a close on Sunday at 1 p.m. against Lamar. This weekend marks the eighth appearance for OU at the tournament hosted by UTPA, which has changed names throughout the years. The Sooners are 28-14 lifetime in the UTPA Tournament. OU’s first appearance in the tourney was in 1983, where it finished with a 1-4 mark, and the Sooners went 7-1 in their last appearance in Edinburg.
The 2006 season opener is the earliest beginning to a season for the OU baseball team since the 1999 campaign. The Sooners opened that season against Maryland on Jan. 29 in the ACC-Disney Baseball Bash in Orlando, Fl.
All three games of the UTPA Tournament can be heard live with Chuck Kelly calling the play-by-play. Friday and Sunday’s contests are internet-only broadcasts and can be heard via the internet on Yahoo. Saturday’s game will be carried by the Sooners’ flagship station, KOKC (1520 AM). Pregame coverage begins 15 minutes prior to first pitch. Live stats for each of the games can be viewed on Soonersports.com. Click here for more information about OU baseball broadcasts.
UPDATING THE SOONERS
Although Sunny Golloway enters his first full year as head coach of the Oklahoma baseball team, he is no stranger to the program with six years of prior experience on the Sooners’ coaching staff.
Joining the coach in 2006 are 19 letterwinners, including 12 seniors, that finished the 2005 regular season with a 10-2 record under Golloway, then an interim head coach. That team closed out the regular season as one of the hottest teams in the Big 12 Conference and made the program’s second consecutive NCAA Regional appearance, a first since 1997-98.
In the past 30 years, only four other OU teams (1998, 1990, 1989 and 1980) have returned as much experience as the 2006 Sooners. If those teams’ success is any indication of how the 2006 season will play out, Golloway and company could be in for a solid season. Those squads combined for a 150-89 mark (.628) and two of those teams enjoyed the NCAA postseason (1998 and 1989).
SCOUTING TEXAS STATE
The Bobcats finished 2005 with a 32-26 overall record and a third-place finish in the Southland Conference with a 15-12 mark. Texas State is coached by Ty Harrington, who is 200-155 (.563) in his seven seasons at the helm in San Marcos, Texas.
-Texas State returns 18 letterwinners, including six position starters, from the 2005 squad.
-On the mound, senior Scott Moore returns with the most experience from a year ago (73.1 innings). Moore posted a team-high four saves, while striking out 70 batters to lead all returning pitchers.
-Juinor Kyle Jones is the Bobcats’ top returning hitter after batting .279 with 39 RBI in 2005. Jones will switch positions this season, moving from first base to the outfield.
-The Sooners are 4-3 lifetime against Texas State (formerly Southwest Texas State) and have won three of the last four meetings. The last time the two met was on April 13,1999 in Norman. The Sooners cruised to a 16-3 victory in that contest.
Texas-Pan American, an independent school, was 15-37 overall in 2005. UTPA is coached by Willie Gawlik who is 58-103 three years at the helm of the Broncs’ program. In 11 years as a head coach, Gawlik is 228-257.
-UTPA returns 13 letterwinners, including four position starters, from the 2005 squad. The Broncs have experience on the field with over 20 players on the roster being juniors or seniors.
-Senior Aaron Guerra was the most successful hurler for UTPA last year. During his junior campaign, he compiled a 5-5 record with a 5.15 earned run average.
-On offense, senior Louie Alamia, who was named to the Brooks Wallace Award watch list, led the Broncs in multiple categories last season, batting .353 and becoming the program’s all-time hits leader.
-Texas-Pan American is the only school that a current Sooner has played against this weekend. OU met UTPA at home on May 15 and 16 during the 2004 season. The Sooners won both of those contests by scores of 12-2 and 8-7. OU leads the all-time series with the Broncs, 10-3. Besides the 2004 series, OU has faced UTPA in its tournament in 11 other contests.
Lamar posted a 38-23 overall record and a 16-11 mark in Southland Conference play last season. The Cardinals advanced to the championship game of the SLC Tournament in 2005 after finishing in second place during the regular season.
-Lamar returns 18 letterwinners, including six position starters and five of its top seven pitchers.
-The Cardinals’ pitching staff is led by William Delage. The senior posted a 6-5 record with a team-best 3.31 earned run average. He struck out 66 batters in 98.0 innings pitched.
-Junior catcher Michael Ambort, who was named SLC hitter of the year, headlines the list of returning position starters. He batted .336 with 15 doubles and 65 RBI. In addition, he set a new Lamar single-season home run record with 18.
-Lamar leads the all-time series with OU, 7-5. OU has a two-game losing streak against the Cardinals. The last time the two matched up was in 2003, where the Cardinals defeated the Sooners, 7-3 in Beaumont, Texas. OU suffered a 3-2 defeat in the only meeting with Lamar in the UTPA Tournament (Feb. 18, 1983).
The Sooners will open the home portion of the 2006 schedule next weekend when they host Western Illinois on Feb. 10-12. The home opener on Friday will get underway at 3 p.m. at L. Dale Mitchell Park. Saturday’s game will also begin at 3 p.m. and the series finale on Sunday will is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start OU hosted the Leathernecks last year and swept the three-game series by outscoring the opposition 30-13.
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 6:30 p.m. ESPNU Sunday, April 2 Texas 2:30 p.m. ESPNU/KOKC (network) 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)
Sunday, April 9
Friday, March 31
Saturday, April 1
Sunday, April 2
at Texas A&M
Saturday, April 15
Fox Sports Network
Sunday, April 16
Sunday, April 23
at Texas Tech
Sunday, April 30
Sunday, May 7
Friday, May 12
Saturday, May 13
Sunday, May 14
SSN TV/KOKC (network)
Sunday, May 21
# 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.
The Sooners’ pitching staff looks to be solid in 2006 with 84 percent of the innings pitched returning. Five seniors will lead the charge, including senior ace Daniel McCutchen who struck out 84 batters in 84 innings last year. Additionally, seventy-seven percent of OU’s wins and strikeouts from 2005 return this season.
While OU’s outfield will see a lot of familiar faces this season, there are still some changes that were made in the offseason. Senior Chuckie Caufield (.315, 19 RBI, 9 SB) and sophomore Kody Kaiser (.305, 34 RBI, 13 SB) return as starters but will swap positions this year. Caufield, who started 49 games in center field, will be the Sooners’ right fielder and Kaiser, who started 54 in right, will move to center field.
Ryan Rohlinger and Russell Raley, both All-Big 12 selections at one point in their collegiate careers, solidify the Sooners’ infield for the third straight year. Joining Raley up the middle will be last year’s starting shortstop, Freddy Rodriguez. And on the opposite corner of the infield from Rohlinger is converted third baseman Kevin Smith.
That foursome combined to start 219 games last year and accounted for over 40 percent of the 2005 Sooners’ offensive production. Said Coach Golloway of the group: ““Heading into this 2006, this group of infielders reminds me of the 1994 College World Series team,” commented Golloway. “I don’t want to put any extra pressure on them but the similarities are there on both offense and defense.”
FIRST-YEAR HEAD COACHES
Sunny Golloway, OU’s eighth coach in program history, will look to become 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)
OU IN SEASON OPENERS
Since 1963, the OU baseball program is 34-9 in season openers. From 1984 till 2003, the Sooners won 20 consecutive season openers. The Sooners have dropped the last two season openers, both to Gonzaga. OU’s 20-2 record since 1984 has been made possible by run support. The Sooners have outscored the opposition 234-96, scoring in double digits on 11 occasions while averaging 10.5 a game.
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
SOONERS UNDER GOLLOWAY IN 2005
The Sooners finished the regular season with a 10-2 record after Sunny Golloway took the reigns. Improvements in the team’s power and speed made the run possible which concluded with a 12-6 mark
over the final 18 games of 2005 and an appearance in the final game of the NCAA Oxford Regional. OU hit 27 of the team’s 49 home runs last season in the final 18 games (1.5 average per game). OU stole 26 bases over the final 18 games, good for an average of 1.44 swipes a game. Kody Kaiser was responsible for eight of those stolen bases while Aaron Ivey contributed five. OU finished 2005 with 64 stolen bases.
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
McCUTCHEN, ROHLINGER AND CAUFIELD NAMED CAPTAINS
Seniors Chuckie Caufield, Daniel McCutchen and Ryan Rohlinger were chosen by their teammates to serve as the team’s captains in 2006.
Caufield made 56 starts last year and was the only regular starter to compile a perfect fielding percentage. McCutchen returns for his senior year after being selected in the 12th round of the 2005 MLB Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals. The Norman, Okla., native became the team’s No. 1 starter midway through the 2005 season. Rohlinger, also returns for his senior season after being selected by the Cardinals in 2005 (21st round). Rohlinger was the Sooners’ starting third baseman last year and led the team in nearly every major offensive category.
SEASON TICKETS NOW ON SALE
Season tickets for the 2006 OU baseball season are now on sale through the OU Athletics Ticket Office and SoonerSports.com. Click here to learn more about what is offered for the 2006 season.
The Sooners' home opener is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 10 at 3 p.m. against Western Illinois. OU will then continue the series against the Leathernecks on Saturday, Feb. 11 at 3 p.m. and conclude the three-game set on Sunday at 1 p.m.
To order your season tickets please call the OU Athletics Ticket Office at (405) 325-2424 or (800) 456-4668 or click here for more information available on SoonerSports.com.
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