With the fall semester quickly winding down, head baseball coach Larry Cochell recently sat down with SoonerSports.com to answer questions on the team’s progression during fall practice and to give fans a brief look ahead to the upcoming spring season. The team’s prospects are bright heading into the 2005 season following a rewarding 2004 campaign which included a close second place finish in the Big 12 Conference regular season race (the top Big 12 finish in program history) and the hosting of a NCAA Regional in Oklahoma City.
SoonerSports.com: How did the fall season play out for you and the coaching staff? Did the team meet your expectations?
Cochell: “We think it went very well. We’re excited about the players that we have. We think we’re going to be improved offensively. We have the athletes and the ability to do some good things offensively.
“We have some new pitchers. People might not know their names, but I think they will once we’re done. A lot of people didn’t know about (David) Purcey, (Mark) Redman and (Russ) Ortiz once they got here, but I think we’ve got some guys that our fans are really going to like.
“I think everyone received and adapted to the new coaching staff well. The pitchers and all the players have really embraced Coach Corral.
“We feel like its been a very productive fall. We felt like we accomplished what we wanted to accomplish. We found out who could do what and also found out things that we need to work on.”
SoonerSports.com: Individually, who stood out the most in the fall?
Cochell: “The one name that comes to my mind first is Brad Burns. He’s a freshman pitcher that really has a chance to be an exciting player. He reminds me a lot of Mike Moore when he was a freshman who I used to coach. Also, Garrett Patterson. We felt like he really improved under Coach Corral’s tutelage and we’re excited about his development.
“(P.J.) Sandoval, (John) Brownell and (Steven) Guerra, those three players that we brought in have really lived up to their expectations.
“Also, (Jackson) Williams and (Matt) Bose have really done a good job behind the plate. Bose especially has made a lot of improvement.”
SoonerSports.com: Were there particular points of emphasis that you focused on as a team this fall?
Cochell: “Not really. Our main goal was focusing on finding out who could do what and who could do certain things in certain situations because we have more depth offensively and defensively. We focused on certain situations with our pitching staff as well.
SoonerSports.com: How did the annual Red-White Series go? Who would you say were your pitching and offensive Most Valuable Players?
Cochell: “It was a very competitive and intense series, probably one of the most competitive that we’ve had. The team really got into it and responded to the competition that we’ve got at several positions, especially in the outfield.
“(Brad) Burns probably would have been the MVP pitching-wise. (Russell) Raley and (Jeff) Scuderi were probably the two that performed the best offensively.”
SoonerSports.com: Can you already tell the character of the new team from what you saw this fall and if so, what is it?
Cochell: “Up to this point, it seems to be a close-knit group. A lot of times it takes a while for a team to develop a personality with so many new players. We have a personality now, but during the season the personality can change. So it will be interesting to see when we start playing if it still continues to be the type of team that its been in the fall.”
SoonerSports.com: Of your returning players, who emerged in the fall as potential leaders for your club in the spring?
Cochell: “It’ll be interesting to see who emerges because we might not have one leader, because we might have four, five or six leaders that will develop. We have that many guys that have personalities as such that can lead us in different ways.”