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No. 23 Sooners Set to Host Centenary
March 09, 2006

NORMAN, Okla. -- The No. 23 Oklahoma baseball team will look to extend its four-game winning streak this weekend in a three-game series against visiting Centenary. 

The series opener will get underway on Friday, March 9 at 7 p.m. at L. Dale Mitchell Park between the Sooners (13-4) and the Gents (7-8).  Game two on Saturday is slated for a 3 p.m. start and first pitch for Sunday’s finale is set for 1 p.m.

OU and CC last met during the 2001 season in Norman, Okla.  In that three-game set, the Sooners swept the Gents (5-0, 7-1, 16-7). 

MEDIA EXPOSURE
Video coverage of Friday's and Saturday's games in the series can be seen live on the O-Zone. Live audio of all games will be available live stats for all games this season can be viewed on Soonersports.com.

Live Stats | Live O-Zone | Live Audio

UPDATING THE SOONERS
The Sooners extended their winning streak to four games on Tuesday in Fort Worth, Texas, with a 10-5 victory over TCU.  OU posted 10 runs and 10 hits in front of 1,687 fans at Lupton Stadium to improve to 13-4 this season.  OU has won three straight against the Horned Frogs and owns a 51-24 all-time record in the series. The loss dropped TCU to 8-7 this season.

OU took the early lead with three runs in the third inning but TCU quickly countered in its next at-bat to tie things up.  Ryan Rohlinger’s single to center field in the fifth inning, which plated Chuckie Caufield, put OU ahead for good as the Sooners tallied seven runs from the fifth through seventh frames.

Rohlinger provided the offense for the Sooners by driving in four of the team’s 10 runs.  Rohlinger finished 3-for-5 and currently leads the team with a .426 batting average.  His four RBI performance tied a career high (fifth time in his career) and it marked the fourth time this season that a Sooner connected for four RBI in a game (Chuckie Caufield, Joseph Hughes and Ryan Mottern).

Ryan Mottern (1-1) was solid in just his second start of the season and seventh of his career, with a career-high five strikeouts.  Mottern tossed five innings in his first career win.  Tuesday’s outing, consisting of 77 pitches (46 strikes), was the second longest of Mottern’s career, behind his March 20, 2004 start versus Texas (6 IP).

SCOUTING CENTENARY
The Gents enter this weekend’s series after losing their last six games.  They started off 2006 with a 7-2 mark but have struggled since.  Centenary has not won a game since defeating Jackson State in both games of a doubleheader on Feb. 17.

In its last outing, Centenary fell 3-2 to Sam Houston State on Feb. 28.  Before that game, the Gents dropped a four-game series to Northern Iowa and a single game to Northwestern State.   Centenary is winless in three road games this season.

-Offensively,  sophomore Alex Maldonado leads the club with 14 RBI.  The catcher is fourth on Centenary with a .300 average.  Senior Justin Darr. (1B/DH) ranks second in batting average (.397) and RBI (12). 

-Junior Brandon Fulenchek is expected to open the series for Centenary on the mound.  The left-hander is 2-3 this year in five appearances (four starts).  He has allowed 13 runs over 19 1/3 innings (5.59 ERA) this season and has 15 strikeouts opposite seven walks. 

The last time OU faced a left-handed starter was on Feb. 18 against Lamar.  The Sooners chased William Delage out of the game after 5 2/3 innings after he allowed nine earned runs on 12 hits and three walks.  OU is hitting .376 versus left-handed pitching this season.

-Centenary is coached by Ed McCann, who is in his eighth season at the Gents’ helm and is 156-249-2 (.386) in that span.   He led Centenary to a 27-30 record last year and a fourth-place finish in the Mid-Continent Conference.  Returning from last year’s team that went 2-2 in the conference tournament, are 13 letterwinners and five position starters.

-The Sooners lead the all-time series with the Gents 5-0.  OU and CC last met during the 2001 season in Norman, Okla.  In that three-game set, the Sooners swept the Gents (5-0, 7-1, 16-7).  The 1989 season also saw the two meet at L. Dale Mitchell Park in a two-game series.  OU took both of those games with scores of 10-8 and 9-8. 

PLAYER TO WATCH - RYAN ROHLINGER

Ryan Rohlinger

The Sooners' third baseman leads the team with a .426 batting average.  His four-RBI performance against TCU on Tuesday tied a career high and it marked the fifth time in his career that he connected for four RBI in a game.

WHO’S NEXT
The Sooners will face a stretch of four consecutive games played away from L. Dale Mitchell Park.  OU will face UT-Arlington on March 14 at Clay Gould Ballpark at 6:30 p.m.    OU will then face one of the tougher road tests of the season with a three-game set at No. 13 Arizona State.  Tuesday’s game will be carried live by KOKC (1520 AM) with Chuck Kelly calling the play-by-play.  The ASU series will be aired by KOKC as well, unless there is a conflict with the OU basketball teams playing in the NCAA Tournament.  In the case of a conflict, the baseball game can be heard via Yahoo.

TOP 25
OU moved up two spots in the Collegiate Baseball poll after cracking into the top-25 rankings last week for the first time since being ranked in the preseason polls.  The Sooners are No. 23 in the Collegiate Baseball poll and also moved up four spots to No. 26 in the NCBWA poll this week.  Refer to page six for a complete week-by-week breakdown.

SOLID START
The 2006 Sooners are off to a 13-4 start and since 1994, the year OU won its last National Championship, only three other OU teams have started off the season with a better record after 17 games.  The 2002 Sooners went 13-4, the 1998 team was 15-2 and the 1994 CWS Championship team started off the season with a 14-3 mark.

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

MCCUTCHEN CAPTURES BIG 12 HONOR
Senior captain Daniel McCutchen was chosen as the Phillips 66 Big 12 Conference Baseball  Co-Pitcher of the Week.  McCutchen shared the honor with Nebraska’s Joba Chamerlain, and the two were chosen in voting by a panel of media covering Big 12 baseball for games played Feb. 28-Mar. 6. It marked the first career award for McCutchen (3-2, 3.37 ERA), who lasted 10 innings and struck out six batters in his first complete-game shutout on Friday versus UC Riverside.  McCutchen is the second Sooner to be honored by the conference this year (Hughes).

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, achieved in both the UTPA game (2 2B, 1 3B, HR) and game two of the Western Illinios series (4 2B, 2 3B).

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 17 games, OU owns the best fielding percentage in the Big 12 (.986) and has turned the most double plays (20) 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 ranked teams (Arizona State, Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M, Missouri, Rice, Wichita State and Nebraska) later this season listed in this week’s polls, combining for 20 of their final 38 regular season games.   (All rankings listed were taken at the time of competition).

SCORING EARLY AND OFTEN
OU is tied for third in the Big 12 in runs scored with 121 and it has recorded 74 percent of those tallies in the second through six innings this season.  The Sooners have crossed the plate 90 times in those five innings, including 23 times in the sixth frame alone.  Additionally, OU has scored first in all but three of its games this season (Texas State, Rice and Indiana State) and is 11-3 when it posts the game’s first run, suffering losses to Wichita State, Lamar on Feb. 5 and Memphis.  Listed on page 13 is a complete breakdown of the Sooners’ runs scored inning-by-inning.

TRUE ROAD GAMES
Even though OU is 7-3 away from L. Dale Mitchell Park, it is only 2-1 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 TCU on Tuesday.  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 last weekend.  OU finished 3-1 during the stretch and is 6-1 overall this season at L. Dale Mitchell Park.  The Sooners’ longest home stand comes near the end of the month when Baylor (March 24-26) comes to town for three games, followed by Dallas Baptist (March 28) in a mid-week contest, and concludes with Texas for a three-game set (March 31-April 2).

OFFENSIVE PRODUCTION
Although early in the season, the 13-4 Sooners have proven that they are an offensive team after recording 10 or more hits in 11 of its 17 games.  Additionally, the Sooner offense has scored double-digit runs on five occasions this season (UTPA, WIU-twice, Lamar-Feb. 18 and TCU).  OU is averaging 7.1 runs a game and 10.3 hits per game in 2006.   Additionally, seven different Sooners are hitting .300 or better (min. 20 at-bats) and eight sluggers have seven or more RBI, including five with 10-plus (Caufield, Reza, Rohlinger, Smithand Williams).

GOING THE DISTANCE
The Sooners’ offense held the spotlight early in the season, but the starting rotation on the weekend has been even more impressive.  Seniors Daniel McCutchen, Steven Guerra and P.J. Sandoval have started five 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 four times this season, while McCutchen has gone six-plus innings three times and Sandoval has one 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 his start Tuesday against TCU.

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 (112), tied for third in runs scored (111), fourth in hits (175) and sixth in batting average (.310) 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 (27-for-28) and they have executed five squeeze bunts out of six, resulting in five runs scored from third base.  OU is also tied for third in the conference in stolen bases (23).

CONSISTENT POSITION STARTERS
The Sooners have used numerous different starting lineups this season, featuring two or more players at every position except right field.   Chuckie Caufield has started all 17 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 one game 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 16 games, all at first base.

Will Savage
CHART CLIMBERS
Senior hurlers Daniel McCutchen and Will Savage rank in the top ten on OU’s career saves list.  With five saves this season, Savage is alone at 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. 11 - 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)

SERVICE ACADEMIES ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Daniel McCutchen and Jackson Williams were honored as part of the 18th Annual Service Academies Classic held last weekend at USA Stadium in Millington, Tenn.  McCutchen tied a career high with 10 strikeouts against Memphis on Friday, lasting 8 2/3 innings in the defeat, while Williams hit .375 with two RBI.

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.

UTPA CLASSIC ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Four Sooners were named to the 18-member All-Tournament Team for  the UTPA Classic held in Edinburg, Texas.  Ryan Rohlinger (4-for-7,  2 RBI), Ryan Mottern (4-for-9, 5 RBI), Chuckie Caufield (7-for-15, RBI) and Steven Guerra (1-0, 3.60 ERA) helped the Sooners to a 2-1 record at the UTPA Classic

BIG 12 COMMISSIONER’S HONOR ROLL
Ten members of the OU baseball team were named to the Fall Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll.  Steven Guerra, Joseph Hughes, Aaron Ivey, Kody Kaiser, Ryan Mottern, Russell Raley, Aaron Reza, Ryan Rohlinger, P.J. Sandoval and Cory Williamson made the list.  In order to qualify for the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll a student-athlete must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA for the semester.   In addition,   Guerra and Ivey maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA for the semester. .

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, 13-4 (.765)

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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