Feb. 7, 2001

A CLOSER LOOK AT OKLAHOMA

Oklahoma Heads To Alabama For Weekend Set

The Sooners hit the road to face Southeastern Conference powerhouse Alabama in a three-game series at Sewell-Thomas Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala., this weekend. The series will serve as the Crimson Tide's season opener. Both teams enter the weekend ranked in the latest Collegiate Baseball poll with Oklahoma at No. 22 and Alabama at No. 25.

The series, which will be televised live by College Sports Southeast and College Sports Southwest, begins Friday night at 7:07 p.m. The match-up concludes Saturday and Sunday at 4:07 p.m. and 2:07 p.m., respectively.

Oklahoma-Alabama Series To Be Televised

This weekend's series against Alabama, Feb. 9-11 at Sewell-Thomas Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala., will be televised live by both College Sports Southeast and College Sports Southwest. The broadcast times for the three-game set are scheduled to begin on Friday, Feb. 9 at 7 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 10 at 4 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 11 at 2 p.m., with first pitches occurring seven minutes after the broadcasts begin.

College Sports Southwest is available in several states in the Big 12 Conference region, including Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Texas. College Sports Southeast airs in nine states in the southeast region of the country, including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Last Time Out

Aided by 19 hits, including two three-run homers, Oklahoma pounded Oklahoma Baptist, 13-6, Monday afternoon at L. Dale Mitchell Park in a game rescheduled from Friday. OU used a six-run fourth inning to break out of its offensive slump that occurred over the previous two games. Eight out of the starting nine Sooner batters in the lineup collected a hit, while three players posted three-hit performances.

Bryan King accounted for four runs in the game for OU. The senior leftfielder blasted a three-run homer to center field in the sixth inning and then drove in junior first baseman Charlie Frasier with a RBI single in the seventh inning. King set a career high in RBIs with four and matched a career-high with three hits in the contest.

Righthander Scott Moore (1-0) was credited with the win after coming on in relief of Sooner starter Matt Sorensen to begin the fourth inning. The junior threw the next three innings and allowed only two hits and an unearned run in his Oklahoma debut.

Godsey Named Big 12 Conference Player Of The Week

After batting .600 over the Sooners opening two games and nailing a game-winning home run in the season opener, Oklahoma's senior centerfielder Jerome Godsey was named the Phillips 66 Big 12 Conference Baseball Player of the Week (Jan. 26 - Feb. 4) as released Tuesday evening by the league offices. Godsey completed a two-game weekend set against Oklahoma City batting 6-for-10 and scoring two runs while driving in two more.

"It feels good to be honored for what I do on the field," said Godsey after hearing of his recent accolade. "I give a lot of the credit to my coaches for helping me become a better hitter since I arrived at OU."

The Santa Rosa, Calif., native matched a career best in hits with a 4-for-6 effort in the season opener against OCU highlighted by a walk-off solo homer in the 11th inning to lead OU to a 4-3 victory. He also added a stolen base and a second RBI in the game.

Godsey led the Sooner offensive attack again in Sunday's contest tying for a team-best 2-for-4 performance with one run scored.

Pitching Newcomers Shine

Three pitchers making their Oklahoma debuts this weekend lived up to their preseason expectations. Junior Scott Moore and freshmen Buddy Blair and Mark Roberts were thrown into action early and held the opposition to only five hits and one unearned run in a combined nine innings pitched. All three hurlers made their appearances in relief situations.

Moore picked up the win in relief against Oklahoma Baptist, after the Bison had jumped ahead early with five runs, and shut OBU down to one unearned run over three frames. Roberts followed Moore on the mound and fanned two batters in his two innings of work.

Blair kept the Sooners in the game in the season opener versus Oklahoma City by throwing four scoreless innings and allowing OU to pull even with the Stars and eventually capture the win.

Diamond Notes

* The Sooners' opening day reported attendance of 1,429 was larger than any other single-game crowd at L. Dale Mitchell Park during the 2000 season.

* The Sooners swiped six bases in the first game against OCU. It was the most stolen bases an OU team has racked up since stealing nine against Texas-Arlington in the 1998 season.

* With Saturday's win over OCU, Head Coach Larry Cochell is now a perfect 11-0 in season openers at OU.

* After picking up the win in relief in Saturday's game, junior righthanded pitcher Rocky Cherry is now 6-1 in his last seven decisions.

* OU's leading RBI producer through the first two contests was senior third baseman Greg Dobbs, who drove in four runs without a hit.

* Senior centerfielder Jerome Godsey's walk-off home run against Oklahoma City on opening day was only the second home run of his career. Godsey delivered his other home run on opening day a year ago.

* In the team's offensive outburst on Monday against Oklahoma Baptist, eight of the nine starters in Oklahoma's lineup recorded a hit, including seven multi-hit performances.

* Junior first baseman Charlie Frasier has hit two home runs in the Sooners' first three contests.

AT THE PLATE: ALABAMA

Scouting 'Bama

The Crimson Tide concluded the 2000 season with a 41-24 overall record, including a 16-14 mark in the Southeastern Conference. Last year's team accolades included a second place finish to eventual College World Series runner-up Stanford in the Palo Alto Regional, a third place finish in the SEC Tournament and a fourth place finish in the SEC Western Division. The win total was the Tide's sixth-consecutive 40-plus win season under Head Coach Jim Wells and its sixth-straight postseason appearance.

'Bama returns 11 lettermen off of last year's club, including five starters. Junior second baseman Brent Boyd, who led the team in batting average with a .360 clip in 2000, leads two other returning starters who hit better than .311 last season.

On the mound, each of the Tides' top returning pitchers posted four wins or more in 2000. Heading up the pack is two-year starter and reliever Lance Cormier, who recorded a 4-4 record and a 5.54 ERA. Cormier is expected to nail down a spot in the starting rotation this season, after topping the team in saves the last two seasons.

Crimson Tide Shorts

* Alabama ended the 2000 season on a hot streak winning 21 of its last 30 games. In those final 30 contests, the Crimson Tide hit 54 home runs.

* Alabama swiped 110 bases in 2000 which set the fourth highest single-season total in school history. Almost half of the stolen base production returns to create havoc on the basepaths this season.

* 'Bama pitchers allowed a school record 399 runs last season to eclipse the old mark of 387 runs set in 1999. Tide hurlers also surrendered 673 hits and hit 44 batters to registered the second-highest mark in school history in both categories.

* On the flip side, the team's offense scored the third-highest total of runs last year with 543.

* The 500 RBIs set in 2000 also established the third-best total by a Crimson Tide squad.

* The Tide failed to hit 100 home runs last season for the first time since 1996.

* Head Coach Jim Wells enters this season 12 wins short of his 300th win at Alabama and 20 victories shy of his 500th career win.

MORE ON OKLAHOMA

Preseason Rankings

The team garnered its second preseason ranking when the Baseball Weekly/ESPN Top 25 poll listed the Sooners 19th in its preseason college baseball poll which was released last week. OU's other preseason mention came from Collegiate Baseball who ranked the Sooners 15th in its initial poll.

It marks the first preseason rankings for the Sooners, who finished the 2000 season unranked in all polls, since the 1998 season when OU appeared in every initial poll, receiving the highest ranking from Collegiate Baseball who ranked the Sooners 12th that year.

Preseason Pub

Oklahoma received several mentions in the recent college preview issue of Baseball America. The publication projected the Sooners to finish third in the Big 12 Conference and to make the NCAA Tournament field. Sophomore righthanded pitcher Austin Mix was selected to the preseason all-conference team as well as named a top prospect for the 2001 Major League Baseball Draft.

Senior Jason Bartlett was listed as the "Best Defensive Third Baseman" in the league, although he has switched from that position and is now playing at shortstop this season. Senior righthanded pitcher Matt Sorensen and senior third baseman Greg Dobbs were both named as "Top Newcomers" in the Big 12.

Aye, Aye Captain!

For the second-consecutive year, Head Coach Larry Cochell has designated three players to serve as team tri-captains for the forthcoming season. This year Cochell has chosen seniors Greg Dobbs and Jerome Godsey and junior Evan Greusel to act as the team captains for the 2001 season.

Last season, when Jeff Bajenaru, Zach Lekse and Rick Park acted as the team's captains, marked the first time since 1995 that Cochell appointed the honor.

Class of 2001

The current group of newcomers was ranked as one of the top 20 recruiting classes in a recent issue of Collegiate Baseball. The class was rated as the 17th-best recruiting class in the nation for the upcoming 2001 season.

The ranking marked the second-consecutive year that the Sooners' recruiting class was ranked in Collegiate Baseball's top 30 listing. Last year's class was rated 29th.

Rotary Smith Award Watch

The 2001 Rotary Smith Award committee, which honors an individual as the nation's top college baseball player each summer, has named Sooners Jason Bartlett, Greg Dobbs, Austin Mix and Matt Sorensen to its preliminary watch list for the 2001 season.

The list includes over 160 Division I college baseball players who are under consideration to become the winner of the 14th annual award. Sports information personnel at all of the Division I baseball schools aided in compiling the list through preseason submissions. Additional nominations will be added throughout the season until the first round of voting begins in May.

Milestone Victory

Sitting at 392 wins as the head coach for the Sooners, Larry Cochell is eight wins shy of his 400th victory at OU. Cochell, who opened the 2000 season with his 350th win at Oklahoma, is on pace to accomplish the 400-win milestone quicker than any other OU head baseball coach in school history.

The 400-win mark will be the second time in his career that Cochell has achieved the feat. As the head coach at Oral Roberts (1977-1986), Cochell amassed 428 wins in 10 seasons with the Golden Eagles.

Mosiello Tabbed As One of the Nation's Top Assistants

Bill Mosiello, the team's top assistant coach, was recognized in a recent issue of Baseball America as one of the top assistant coaches in the country. Mosiello, who enters his sixth season with the OU program, was ranked eighth on a list of ten top assistants. The ranking, which accompanied an article on the success of several top assistant coaches around the country with major Division I programs, was based on a selective polling of numerous head coaches throughout the nation.

In addition to his duties as the Sooners' third base coach, Mosiello helps in recruiting efforts, instructs the Sooners in hitting and infielding and is responsible for OU's practice organization. At Oklahoma, the Sooners have posted several top finishes in the final national and conference fielding rankings under his direction, including a streak of three-straight first place finishes in the Big 12. Offensively, none of the Sooner teams have hit worse than .309 in his five years in Norman.

Thomas Named Summer League Head Coach

This past summer, assistant coach Aric Thomas was named the head coach of the Peninsula Oilers of the Alaska Baseball League, one of the premier collegiate summer baseball leagues. Thomas, who played for the Oilers while in college, already has extensive experience in coaching summer college teams as he has spent several summers as an assistant in the Cape Cod League, another top collegiate summer baseball league.

Now in his sixth season as a member of the OU coaching staff, Thomas is charged with tutoring the Sooners in the areas of outfielding, base running and hitting. Since joining the staff, Thomas has helped guide the Sooners to their first conference tournament championship in 18 years with the 1997 Big 12 Conference Tournament title and their third NCAA Regional bid in five years.

1951 National Championship Anniversary

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Oklahoma baseball's first national title. In 1951, Oklahoma came from behind to defeat the University of Tennessee, 3-2, in the championship game to become the first team in College World Series history to claim the title after winning the double-elimination tournament in straight games without defeat. The title also gave the University of Oklahoma the distinction of becoming the first school to win three national titles in one school year after the football and wrestling teams both captured national championships.