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Baseball in Tournament Opener vs. Memphis
February 23, 2006

NORMAN, Okla. -- OU, which has won five of its last six games, will head 400-plus miles east of Norman to take part in the 14th Annual Service Academies Classic held in Millington, Tenn. 

The tournament (a first for OU), hosted by the University of Memphis, will pit OU (7-2) against the host Tigers (1-0) in the opener on Friday, Feb. 24 at 4 p.m. at USA Stadium

The Sooners will battle Indiana State (0-0) on Saturday at 1 p.m. and conclude the last tournament of the 2006 season with No. 22 (Collegiate Baseball) Notre Dame at noon on Sunday. 

MEDIA EXPOSURE
All three games of the Service Academies Classic can be heard live with Chuck Kelly calling the play-by-play.  The entire weekend of action will be carried on the Internet via Yahoo. Pregame coverage for all Sooner baseball games begin 15 minutes prior to first pitch.  In addition, live stats for each of the games can be viewed on Soonersports.com.  Click here for more information about OU baseball broadcasts.

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

UPDATING THE SOONERS
With nine games under their belts, the Sooners are 7-2 and are coming off the season’s biggest victory, a 2-1 triumph over then-No. 19 (Baseball America) Long Beach State at the Coca-Cola Classic in Houston, Texas.

OU opened the tournament with host Rice, ranked No. 5, and suffered a 8-2 defeat on Friday.  The Sooners were held to one hit in that contest until the eighth inning when they connected for three doubles and a single to plate two runs. 

The Sooners, behind Steven Guerra and 11 runs, rebounded on Saturday with an 11-4 victory over Lamar, a team that previously defeated OU, 21-9, on Feb. 5 at the UTPA Classic.  Guerra put together his longest outing of the season, 6 2/3 innings, and struck out seven Cardinals (one shy of career high).  Offensively, Joseph Hughes, who pitched a spotless 1 2/3 innings on Friday against Rice, fueled the Sooner offense in his first career start.  Hughes went 3-for-5 with four RBI in the contest as the Sooners banged out double-digit hits (17) for the seventh time in 2006.

In the finale of the Coca-Cola Classic, OU and Long Beach State battled in a classic baseball game that saw the Sooners edge the Dirtbags, 2-1, for the first time in three meetings.  Solid pitching once again led the way, this time from P.J. Sandoval and John Brownell, and Joseph Hughes (2-for-4, run) continued his surge from Saturday and prevented a potential game-tying run from scoring on a throw from center.

SCOUTING MEMPHIS
The Memphis Tigers opened the 2006 season on Tuesday, Feb. 21 at Alabama with a 2-0 victory.  Third baseman Kyle Norid led the way with three hits while designated hitter Robbi Goss drove in both runs.  The Tigers finished the 2005 season with a 13-42 overall record and a 5-25 mark in Conference USA (12th place).   Memphis returns 16 letterwinners and seven position starters   from that squad, including five hurlers with experience as starters.  Memphis is 28-18 overall in the Service Academies Classic.

-On the mound, freshman Scott McGregor is expected to get the start.  The right-hander finished his senior year at Lakota East H.S. (Ohio) with a 6-2 mark, a 2.62 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 53.1 innings of work.

-Offensively,  sophomore Adam Amar (1B) returns for his junior year after driving in 75 runs in his first two years at Memphis.   Amar led the Tigers with 53 RBI a year ago and batted .301 with seven homers.

-Memphis is coached by Daron Schoenrock, who is in his 2nd season at the helm.   In his three seasons as a head coach, Schoenrock is 38-94 (.288).

-OU and Memphis will be meeting for the first time this weekend.

SCOUTING INDIANA STATE
Indiana State will be opening its season on Thursday against No. 22 Notre Dame and will play the Naval Academy on Friday before taking on the Sooners.  The Sycamores finished the 2005 season with a 30-20 overall record and a 10-14 mark in Missouri Valley Conference (tied fifth place).   Indiana State returns 19 letterwinners and seven position starters   from that squad, including four hurlers with 10-plus games started last year.  Indiana State is 1-2 overall in the Service Academies Classic.

-On the mound,  sophomore Chad Dawson is projected to start against OU.  Dawson, a righty, started 10 games last year and went 2-4 with a 5.85 ERA and 29 strikeouts over 52.1 innings pitched.

-Offensively,  senior shortstop Jake Eigsti is the squad’s top returning hitter with a .300 clip in 2005 and four home runs and 45 RBI.  Eigsti also connected for 13 doubles and stole 23 bases last year.

-Indiana State is coached by Bob Warn, who is in his 30th season at the helm with a 1,050-713-9 (.595) record and is 1,134-751-9  (.601) overall in his 33-year career.

-OU leads the all-time series with Indiana State, 3-1.  The Sooners won the last meeting, a 9-6 victory in the 1995 Midwest Regional in Oklahoma City.  The two split a two-game series in Norman in 1983 and the Sooners topped the Sycamores in the 1979 Midwest Regional in Tucson, Ariz., by a 9-2 count.

Memphis Baseball | Indiana State Baseball | ND Baseball

SCOUTING NOTRE DAME
Notre Dame will open 2006 on Thursday against Indiana State and will also play the Air Force Academy and Memphis before facing the Sooners on Sunday.  The Fighting Irish was 38-24-1 overall in 2005 and they ended the season as the runner-up at the Florida Regional.   Notre Dame returns 21 letterwinners and eight position starters from a team that finished third in the Big East (14-9-1) before winning the conference tournament.  Additionally, five starting pitchers also return.  The Fighting Irish are 11-2 overall in the Service Academies Classic

-Right-handed Jeff Manship is expected to take the mound against OU.  The junior made 12 appearances last season, including seven starts, and finished with a 2-1 record and one save.    Manship posted a 3.97 ERA and struck out 20 batters over 22.2 innings pitched in 2005.

-Offensively,  three-year starter Craig Cooper’s 58 RBI and seven sCOUTING notre dame CONT.
 homers ranked second on the team last year.  His .325 average was also third best on the squad and he swiped 14 bases in 2005.

-The Fighting Irish are coached by Paul Mainieri, who is in his 12th season in South Bend.  He is 488-196-2 (.713) at Notre Dame and 819-475-3  (.633) in 23 seasons as a head coach. 

-The Sooners and Irish have only one other occasion, a 15-3 win for OU on March 15, 1982 in Norman.

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.

PLAYER TO WATCH - STEVEN GUERRA

Steven Guerra
The Sooners’ No. 2 starter is the only hurler in the Big 12 with three wins.  The Paso Robeles, Calif., native has lasted five-plus innings in each of his three starts this season.  Guerra also ranks second in the conference in strikeouts with 16. 

WHO’S NEXT
The Sooners will return home after the Service Academies Classic where they will play seven of their next eight games at L. Dale Mitchell Park, where they are 3-0 this year.  The home stand begins with Wichita State on Tuesday, Feb. 28 (3 p.m.) and later in the week, OU will host UC Riverside on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  The Sooners will then travel to Texas Christian  for a midweek game on Tuesday, March 7 before returning home to host Centenary on March 10-12. 

HUGHES COLLECTS BIG 12 WEEKLY HONOR
Oklahoma junior Joseph Hughes, who pitches and roams the outfield for the Sooners, was named the Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week on Tuesday in voting by a panel of media covering Big 12 baseball for games played Feb. 14-20.   It is the first such honor for Hughes, who transferred to OU after a two-year stint at Grayson County College, and the first weekly honor by a Sooner in 2006.  Hughes excelled in offense, defense and pitching as the Sooners finished 2-1 in the Rice Coca Cola Classic in Houston, Texas over the weekend.  The newcomer hit .625, scored two runs, stole a base and connected for four RBI against Rice, Lamar and Long Beach State.  Additionally, the McKinney, Texas native pitched 1 2/3 innings of spotless relief against then-No. 5 Rice in the tournament opener, striking out three Owls. 

SCORING EARLY AND OFTEN
OU leads the Big 12 in runs scored with 83 and it has recorded over half of those tallies in the first four innings this season.  The Sooners have crossed the plate 43 times in the first four innings, including 15 times in the fourth frame alone.  Additionally, OU has scored first in all but one of its games this season (Rice) and is 6-1 when it posts the game’s first run, suffering its lone defeat against Lamar on Feb. 5.  Listed on page 13 is a complete breakdown of the Sooners’ runs scored inning-by-inning.

OFFENSIVE PRODUCTION
Although early in the season, the 7-2 Sooners have proven that they are an offensive team. OU has recorded 10 or more hits in seven of its nine games (Rice and Long Beach State).  Additionally, the Sooner offense has scored double-digit runs on four occasions this season (UTPA, WIU-twice and Lamar-Feb. 18).  OU is averaging just under 10 runs a game (9.2) and 12.2 hits per game in 2006.   Additionally, nine different Sooners are hitting .300 or better (minimum 12 at-bats) and seven sluggers have five or more RBI., including three with 10 (Caufield, Reza and Smith).

GOING THE DISTANCE
The Sooners’ offense has had the spotlight early in the season, but the starting rotation has been equally effective.  Seniors Daniel McCutchen, Steven Guerra and P.J. Sandoval have started three 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 twice this season, while McCutchen and Sandoval both lasted six innings in one of their three starts.

CONSISTENT STARTERS
The Sooners have used numerous different starting lineups this season, featuring two or more players at every position except first base and right field.   Chuckie Caufield has started all nine games in right field while Kevin Smith, a converted third baseman, has started every game at first base.   Caufield, the Sooners leadoff hitter, is the only player to start every game at the same spot in the lineup.

QUICK STARTS
Since the formation of the Big 12 Conference in 1997, the Sooner baseball team has started off the season with a 7-2 record, or better, on five occasions including this season.  OU began last season with an 8-2 start.  Other 7-2 starts since 1997 include; 2004 (8-1), 2002 (8-2), 1999 (7-2) and 1998 (12-0). 

SMALL BALL
The 2006 Sooners are proving to be a team that has options on offense.  As the team leads the Big 12 in batting average (.354), runs (83), on-base percentage (.455) and RBI (77) 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 leading the conference in the power numbers listed above, the Sooners also lead the Big 12 in sacrifices (perfect 13-for-13) and they have executed four squeeze bunts, resulting in scoring four runs from third base.  OU is also second in stolen bases (17).

Will Savage
CHART CLIMBERS
Senior hurlers Daniel McCutchen and Will Savage rank in the top ten on OU’s career saves list.  With two saves this season, Savage is tied at the No. 5 spot with former Sooner and current professional Geoff Geary (Philadelphia Phillies).  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. 9 - Scott Dean (1981-82)
5. 8 - Geoff Geary (1997-98)
    8 - Will Savage (2005-present)
6. 7 - Daniel McCutchen (2004-present) 
    7 - George Frazier (1975-76)
    7 - Matt Ruebel (1989-00)
    7 - Scott Girod (1990)
    7 - Scott Moore (1991-92)

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

6:30 p.m.

ESPNU

Sunday, April 2

Texas

2:30 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, 7-2 (.778)

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

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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