NORMAN, Okla. -- The 2006 Oklahoma baseball team hit the field for fall team practice on Sunday at L. Dale Mitchell Park. It marked the start of several weeks of practice for the Sooners, who will hold their first intrasquad scrimmage at L. Dale Mitchell Park on Monday at 6 p.m. The scrimmage is open to the public.
The Sooners opened fall practice with 14 newcomers and welcomed back 22 members off a 2005 squad which went 35-26 overall and 14-13 in Big 12 Conference play, finished fifth in the league and made an appearance for the second consecutive year at the NCAA Tournament.
Following the team’s first workout, head coach Sunny Golloway was impressed with his latest group of Sooners.
“We have a nice mix of veterans and newcomers this year and we were all very excited to finally get started today,” Golloway commented. “The 2006 season should be exciting and we will look to pick up right where we left off last season with the strong finish."
Below is a breakdown of the 2006 roster:
Gone from last year’s 35-26 Oklahoma team are starting pitcher Garrett Patterson, relief pitcher Tyler Gooch, first baseman/designated hitter Eric Thornton, centerfielder Jeff Scuderi, catcher/designated hitter Matt Bose and leftfielder Chad Lembeck. Patterson and Gooch were both selected in the 2005 MLB Draft and signed professional contracts. Thornton, Scuderi and Bose used up their eligibility in 2005 and Lembeck transferred.
Patterson was an All-Big 12 Second Team member last season. The McAlester, Okla., native was 6-3 overall with a 3.59 ERA and 73 strikeouts (second on the team). In Big 12 action, the lefty recorded a 3-1 mark with a 2.28 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 27.2 innings pitched. Gooch was 2-0 with a 4.57 ERA in his 13 relief appearances and one start on the mound.
Thornton started 58 games in 2005, primarily at first base, and hit .279 with five home runs (fourth on the team) and 45 RBI (second on the team). Thornton was also tied for fourth among the Sooners in runs scored (47). Scuderi began the season as the Sooners’ starting centerfielder and appeared in 40 games overall (11 starts). Scuderi hit .270 with two homers and 19 RBI to accompany his 1.000 fielding percentage.
Bose saw action in 34 games, starting 22 of them. He hit .241 with two homers and 10 RBI. Lembeck started four games and played in eight before suffering a wrist injury in March that forced him to sit out the rest of the season.
The Sooners return 23 players, eight of them position starters, from last year’s team that made it to the NCAA Tournament. In addition to the eight starters in the field, OU also returns three hurlers (Daniel McCutchen, Steven Guerra and Brad Burns) that each started nine or more games in 2005.
Two of the Sooners key returners, McCutchen and Rohlinger, were both selected in the 2005 MLB Draft but made the decision to return to OU for their senior years.
McCutchen was selected in the 12th round by the St. Louis Cardinals after finishing his junior year as the Sooners’ No. 1 starter. McCutchen was a member of the Big 12 honorable mention team in 2005 after going 2-3 with a 2.45 ERA in six Big 12 starts. The Norman product was also drafted in 2003 by the New York Yankees (27th round).
Rohlinger, a 2005 All-Big 12 Second Team member, had a standout season that saw him finish the regular season as the team’s leader in batting average (.355), hits (75), runs (47), home runs (10), RBI (49) and slugging percentage (.578). Rohlinger was also selected by the Cardinals in the 21st round and was named to the Daily Oklahoman’s first annual All-Big 12 Team.
A talented group of newcomers will look to contribute immediately in 2006. Among the newcomers are Aaron Reza, Chris Henry, Matt Lovelady, Nich Conaway, Brandon Moss, A.T. Cole, Josh Huffman, Joseph Hughes, Arin Fowble, Brandon Ponder, Nathan Long, Charlie Caple, Jimmie Rollins and Nate Hammons.
Reza, Lovelady, Moss, Henry and Fowble were all part of the Sooners’ early signing class that was ranked among the nation’s best (top ten by Baseball America).
Also joining the Sooners for the 2006 season is new assistant coach Tim Tadlock. Tadlock comes to Norman after nine successful seasons as the head coach at Grayson County College in Denison, Texas. Under Tadlock, the Vikings posted an impressive 435-130 (.770) mark and won two NJCAA National Championships (1999 and 2000).