Sept. 29, 2000

Up Close and Personal

Norman, Okla. - Head baseball coach Larry Cochell expressed his contentment with the Oklahoma baseball team's performance during the first week of fall practice as workouts ended Friday afternoon. Practices began on Monday, Oct. 25, and progressed throughout the week with early morning strength and conditioning workouts and afternoon practices, including intrasquad games and training sessions.

"We've only been through one week of fall practice, but we already feel like they're doing a good job," commented Cochell, who enters his 11th year of coaching the Sooners.

Cochell's weekly practice report Friday reflected upon the group of talented newcomers that are joining the squad this season. Twenty-one new players will be competing to play key roles during the forthcoming season, including filling the vacancies at five starting positions on the field. The group consists of nine pitchers, eight infielders and four outfielders. Cochell cites the group's greatest strengths as adding depth, athleticism and experience to the team.

"This group has a bunch of good athletes that can run and they also provide a lot of depth at several positions," said Cochell.

The pitching staff will incurr the greatest amount of depth of all the positions. Senior Matt Sorensen leads the group of new hurlers in experience after transfering from Cal State Fullerton. Sorensen compiled a 17-0 record in two seasons with the Titans. Other notable pitching newcomers include two of the top high school prospects in the state of Oklahoma last year. Mark Roberts, a two-time All-State selection from Owasso High School, helped lead his team to two state titles and two state runner-up titles in four years at Owasso. Buddy Blair, a Jenks High School product out of Tulsa, capped off an outstanding senior season by leading his team to the state championship. Blair earned all-metro and all-conference honors in 2000 for his efforts.

"Matt (Sorensen) adds a lot of experience to our pitching staff and the other pitchers that we've added provide valuable depth for us on the mound," stated Cochell. He also added,"The freshman pitchers are a lot more advanced than most players are at their age."

Competition is expected to be fierce for the three vacant infield positions. Eight new infielders are vying for the starting jobs, headlined by senior Greg Dobbs, juniors Charlie Frasier and Sergio Garcia and freshman Denver Kitch. Dobbs played a solid third base at Long Beach State, prior to coming to Oklahoma, where he was an All-Big West and All-NCAA Regional selection his junior year. Charlie Frasier, a Junior College All-American in 2000 from Santa Rosa (Calif.) Junior College, and Sergio Garcia, a junior college transfer from Cerritos (Calif.) Junior College, were two of the most highly-touted junior college prospects last season. Kitch, who's Yukon (Okla.) High School team completed the 2000 season as runner-ups in the state tournament, garnered All-State honors during both his junior and senior campaigns.

With only one regular lefthanded bat in the lineup last year, the Sooners added several outstanding lefthanded hitters to the mix this season. Seven of the new hitters bat from the left side of the plate, including Dobbs and Frasier, junior Zach Harris and freshmen Tyler Johnson and Ryan Welborn. Senior Bryan King and freshman Alex Sianez, both switch hitters, are able to bat from either the left or the right side. Cochell also noted that the group of Harris, Johnson, King, Sianez and Welborn are tremendous athletes that contribute to the overall team speed.

Fall practice continues through next week and concludes October 27. Next week during the weekly fall practice report, Cochell plans to talk about the progress of the team's outfielders.

The following is a list of newcomers to the OU baseball team for the fall season.

Pitchers
Brett Bagley, Fr., Broken Arrow, Okla. (Broken Arrow HS)
Jedd Beeson, Jr., Duncan, Okla. (Northeast Texas CC)
Buddy Blair, Fr., Tulsa, Okla. (Jenks HS)
Zack Cherry, Fr., Coppell, Texas (Coppell HS)
Scott Diaz, Fr., Seabrook, Texas (Seabrook HS)
Rusty Lane, Jr., Clinton, Okla. (Pratt CC)
Scott Moore, Jr., Cushing, Okla. (Cowley Co. CC)
Mark Roberts, Fr., Owasso, Okla. (Owasso HS)
Matt Sorensen, Sr., South Gate, Calif. (Cal State Fullerton)

Infielders
Clark Baggett, So., Waxahachie, Texas (Navarro JC)
Greg Dobbs, Sr., Moreno Valley, Calif. (Long Beach State)
Matt Fisher, Fr., Chatsworth, Calif. (Chatsworth HS)
Charlie Frasier, Jr., Napa, Calif. (Santa Rosa JC)
Sergio Garcia, Jr., Paramount, Calif. (Cerritos CC)
Denver Kitch, Fr., Yukon, Okla. (Yukon HS)
Blair Robinson, Fr., Allen, Texas (Allen HS)
Alex Sianez, Fr., Oklahoma City, Okla. (Capitol Hill HS)

Outfielders
Zach Harris, Jr., Newport, Ark. (Pratt CC)
Tyler Johnson, Fr., Tulsa, Okla. (Jenks HS)
Bryan King, Sr., Bethany, Okla. (Arkansas)
Ryan Welborn, Fr., Yukon, Okla. (Yukon HS)