2006 OU Baseball
The 2006 baseball season is set to begin in less than three weeks and this year's Sooners reported for individual workouts on Tuesday, Jan. 17 and they will then officially begin team practice on Monday, Jan. 23.
In preparation for the upcoming season, SoonerSports.com will preview what fans can look forward to in 2006 under head coach Sunny Golloway.
The final installment of the series features a glance at what the OU batting lineup may look like on opening day and a question and answer session with Coach Golloway.
The Sooners’ batting lineup should provide the team with depth and options to face any situation. The 2006 squad returns most of the offense from last year’s team and below is a breakdown of those numbers.
“This team has the talent on offense that allows the coaching staff to adjust the lineup in a number of different ways,” said Golloway. “We can arrange it in order to have speed early, power in the middle and a mix toward the end. That is what you look for in a lineup and we are fortunate enough to have those options.”
The Sooners have plenty of hitters who can fill the designated hitter slot. Just like in the bullpen, OU has options from both sides of the plate. Hitting from the left side are Freeman, Williamson, Fowble, Dunigan and Rooker. And swinging from the right side as the potential designated hitter, are Mottern, Moss and Ivey. Jon Shackelford joins Kaiser as the only other switch hitter on the team.
“The DH is probably the deepest offensive position on our team because it gives the coaching staff all kinds of different possibilities,” said Golloway. “We can use this spot in the lineup for power in the five hole or we can switch things up and use it in the nine hole for speed.”
Below is look at the projected lineup for 2006:
1. Kody Kaiser (.305 BA, 51 R, 10 HR, 34 RBI)
2. Russell Raley (.302 BA, 37 R, 2 HR, 41 RBI)
3. Ryan Rohlinger (.345 BA, 53 R, 11 HR, 53 RBI)
4. Kevin Smith (.294 BA, 37 R, 6 HR, 42 RBI)
5. Chuckie Caufield (.315 BA, 47 R, 4 HR, 19 RBI)
6. Joe Dunigan (.242 BA, 15 R, HR, 9 RBI)
7. Freddy Rodriguez (.311 BA, 37 R, 30 RBI)
Aaron Reza (hit .446 at Modesto Junior College)
8. Jackson Williams (.263 BA, 31 R, 4 HR, 28 RBI)
9. Ryan Mottern (.256 BA, 6 R, 7 RBI in 2004)
Aaron Ivey (.299 BA, 14 R, HR, 12 RBI)
* all stats listed above are from the 2005 season unless otherwise noted
- How did the fall season play out for you and the coaching staff? Did the team meet your expectations?
We were very pleased with the leadership and the discipline that came out of the fall season. Our practices and intrasquads were highly competitive and the players played with a lot of intensity. The team definitely met my expectations and having the experience returning from last year’s team really helped me out as a first-year head coach.
- Individually, who stood out the most in the fall?
On the mound, I would have to say P.J. Sandoval really excelled. P.J. is one of those players who made tremendous strides from one year to the next and it is hard to say how he did it. All we know is that he came back this fall and really improved his velocity and the bite on his breaking ball.
- Offensively, Chuckie Caufield did exactly what I thought he would do as a senior captain with his bat. Chuckie’s power surge from last year’s NCAA Regional has carried over into the fall and he has proven that he can do anything at the plate. Another slugger, Joe Dunigan, also hit the ball well in the fall. Joe is more consistent at the plate this year and is poised to contribute this season in a great way.
- Finally, on defense, Aaron Reza showed that he can play anywhere in the infield. Any time a player is fundamentally sound like Aaron and possesses gifted hands, it makes for a special player who will make amazing plays on the field.
- How did the annual Red-White Series go? Who would you say were your pitching and offensive Most Valuable Players?
The Red-White Series was successful. One of our goals of the fall was to make sure all the newcomers would mesh well with the returning players and I think the series showed that we accomplished that goal. As far as MVP honors go, I would have to say P.J. and Daniel (McCutchen) were solid on the mound. P.J. continues to show drastic improvements and Daniel shook off a tough fall and showed us again what we knew he was capable of. He put together an impressive outing in six innings pitched and allowed zero earned runs on three hits, while striking out seven. The offensive MVP was Chuckie because he did everything at the plate (hit for power, bunt, hit and run, sacrifices).
- Can you already tell the character of the team from what you saw this fall and if so, what is it?
Yes. This is a very determined and focused team. I have always been a strong believer that through experiences, individuals are products of the environment that surrounds them. With that said, I think based on last year and the success this team achieved despite all the odds, it makes them a special bunch. They have high expectations for themselves and so do I.
- What traits does Coach Tadlock possess that you feel make him a good fit for this program?
Coach Tadlock owns outstanding communication skills. Even if a player is set in his ways, Tim can always make them open to change and that makes him a very valuable asset as a hitting coach and recruiting coordinator. He has also enjoyed a lot of national success in the junior college level, so he knows what it takes to succeed.
- With such a successful run at the end of the season last year, what can the team do to continue that success and improve its status this season?
That is simple--continue to work hard and maintain the “let it fly” attitude that made us such a strong team last year. That attitude allowed our players to go out and try hard without fear of failure. In order to be successful, I think you have to realize what is at stake. And this year’s team understands that its goals and dreams of winning championships is on the line and that it is all within reach.
- How does taking over the OU baseball program differ from when you did the same at Oral Roberts?
For me, nothing is different. I approached the job of taking over the Oklahoma baseball program in the same way that I did at Oral Roberts. The one major difference is that I am in a bigger spotlight as the head coach of a program with such a rich tradition of success. And I obviously understand that I am coaching in one of, if not, the toughest conferences in the nation.
- It does not matter if I am coaching in the high school ranks, junior college, division I or even at the professional level, I will always sweat the details and try to get the most out of an athlete in order to help him achieve on and off the field.
- You return a bulk of the players from last year’s team. How excited about the team’s experience are you and how do the newcomers figure into this season’s scheme?
The coaching staff is very excited to have the amount of leadership and experience returning on this team with 22 letterwinners, including 12 seniors. The goal this season will be to get the newcomers experience for the future. We expect a lot of our new guys to contribute immediately and provide our team with depth at every position.
- With this as your first full season as head coach at OU, what are the goals of this team and what do you think it can achieve?
My goals in 2006 will be same as if I was coaching at OU in 10 years. We are here to win championships and that starts with a Big 12 title and builds up to going to Omaha to win another College World Series championship. I believe that anything else would be cheating myself, the athletes and this program.
Opening Day - Friday, Feb. 3 vs. Texas State at 11 a.m. (Edinburg, Texas)
Home Opener - Friday, Feb. 10 vs. Western Illinois at 3 p.m.
SEASON PREVIEW ARCHIVE:
Part 1 - General outlook and schedule
Part 2 - Catching and pitching
Part 3 - Infield and outfield
SEASON TICKETS NOW ON SALE
The Sooners' home opener is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 10 at 3 p.m. against Western Illinois. OU will then continue the series against the Leathernecks on Saturday, Feb. 11 at 3 p.m. and conclude the three-game set on Sunday at 1 p.m.
To order your season tickets please call the OU Athletics Ticket Office at (405) 325-2424 or (800) 456-4668 or click here for more information available on SoonerSports.com.