The Oklahoma Sooners (8-4) will look to rebound after suffering back-to-back losses over the weekend, to then-No. 4 Cal State Fullerton and Nevada in the Kia Bash, when they host Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Tuesday and Wednesday. Both games are scheduled for a 3 p.m. first pitch at L. Dale Mitchell Park. Game one against the Golden Lions will begin a stretch for OU where it will play six games in eight days at home.
Following the two-game set, the Sooners will play three more games over the weekend in Norman against Northwest Louisiana State. Friday’s contest against the Demons is slated for a 3 p.m. start, while Saturday and Sunday’s games will begin at 1 p.m. The sixth game of the stretch will take place March 15 against Dallas Baptist at 3 p.m. All times are central.
Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday’s games can be heard via the internet on Yahoo.com while Saturday and Sunday’s game will be broadcast live on KOKC (1520 AM) and Chuck Kelly will call the play-by-play. All times and availability are subject to change. Live stats will also be available through SoonerSports.com.
ARKANSAS-PINE BLUFF NOTES
Record: 2-16 | Rankings: NA
After an 0-15 start, The Golden Lions won their first two games of the season last weekend, both over Grambling State. Arkansas-Pine Bluff is coached by Elbert Bennett, currently in his seventh year with the program (70-166). Arkansas-Pine Bluff’s best hitter for average is Aaron Wright turning in a .417 clip. Kenyota Ento and John Hadley Jr. lead the team each with seven RBI. Under head coach Larry Cochell, the Sooners have never squared off with the Lions, a member of the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
NORTHWEST LOUISIANA STATE NOTES
Record: 13-5 | Rankings: NA
After dropping three games in the season opener to current-No. 19 (Sports Weekly/ESPN) Wichita State (11-0, 4-0, 8-7), the Demons have gone on to win 13 of the next 15. Included in that span was a seven-game winning streak and a split to Ole Miss (L-10-1, W-8-7), currently ranked No. 18 in this week’s Sports Weekly/ESPN poll. Blake Jones leads the team in almost every offensive category. Jones tops the list for the Demons in batting average (.404), hits (19), homers (3), RBI (15) and slugging percentage (.660). The Demons face another Big 12 opponent, Baylor, on Tuesday in Waco, Texas, before traveling to Norman. Northwestern State is coached by Mitch Gaspard who in his fourth season as head coach. In his 13-year coaching career (NSU and Alabama), his teams have played in 10 NCAA Regionals and three College World Series. Gaspard’s team went 33-23 a year ago and he is 111-62 in his three seasons at the helm.
2005 KIA BASH
After winning the event in impressive fashion in 2004, OU came away with a 1-2 record in this year’s tournament. OU opened the weekend with a come-from behind victory over UCLA (7-2) but then went on to drop consecutive games to Cal State Fullerton (7-0) and Nevada (14-10). Junior Ryan Rohlinger was impressive over the tournament, batting .538 with two RBI. Rohlinger recorded seven hits overall to extend his streak of multi-hit games to four. Junior Will Savage was also stellar in the three contests, Savage made two relief appearances and allowing zero runs over 6.2 innings pitched. he also recorded two strikeouts and did not walk a single batter.
RUN SUPPORT POWERS SEVEN STRAIGHT VICTORIES
After starting 0-2 at the Coca-Cola Classic, OU has won eight of the next ten games. The Sooners have outscored the opposition 76-27 in the team’s eight victories and have been outscored 36-20 in their four losses. The Sooners are averaging eight runs a game and are batting .307 as a team.
The Sooner offense has been more than supportive of its pitching staff so far this season, but that does not overshadow the fact that the Sooners’ three consistent starters have been solid in 2005. Starting pitching was perhaps the biggest question mark entering this season but Garrett Patterson, Steven Guerra and Brad Burns have been stellar with a combined 5-2 record and 3.28 ERA in 10 starts. Patterson leads the bunch with 23 strikeouts (team high) while Guerra has the lowest ERA (2.42). Burns also has a save under his belt this season after shutting the door on South Alabam in his first appearance of the season.
TOP 25 OPPOSITION
The Sooners face eight different schools throughout the season (combined 20 games) ranked in either the Baseball America or Sports Weekly/ESPN top 25 polls this week (three in the top 10). More than half of those contests occur once Big 12 competition begins as Texas (2/1), Texas A&M (9/15), Baylor (19/23), Texas Tech (22/21) and Nebraska (22-ESPN) are all currently ranked in the top 25. Non-conference opponents ranked among the nation’s best include; Cal State Fullerton (3/3), TCU (24/25) and Wichita State (19-ESPN).
KAISER ON A ROLL
Despite snapping a nine-game hitting streak over the weekend, freshman Kody Kaiser continues to hit the ball well in his first season at OU. Kaiser has hit safely in all but two games (UCLA and Nevada) in 2005. He leads the team with 18 hits and ranks fourth in batting average (.333). The Edmond, Okla., has come within one hit of completing the cycle on two occassions this season. In just his fifth collegiate game (vs. Eastern Illinois), Kaiser led off the game with a triple and added a double and a home run in his next two at-bats before grounding out to second base in his last chance at the cycle. On Feb. 28 against Western Illinois, Kaiser started with a double, triple and a single but could not come up with a homer in his final at bat. He has now served as the team’s leadoff hitter in four games (7-for-18), batted out of the three-hole (7-for-19) in four contests and hit in the sixth spot (3-for-4) in his remaining game.
Junior Russell Raley has hit safely in the Sooners’ first 12 games. Raley is batting .362 this season with 10 RBI and is hitting .400 (6-for-15) and five RBI with runners in scoring position. Raley also leads the team with four multi-RBI games. Juniors Ryan Rohlinger and Freddy Rodriguez are the next closest behind Raley, riding hitting streaks of five games.
Members of the Caufield family have enjoyed success at the University of Oklahoma as LaNeisha Caufield (1999-2002) was a member of the women’s basketball 2002 Final Four team. Now, Chuckie Caufield (LaNeisha’s brother), is quickly becoming a key member of the 2005 OU baseball team. Caufield has started seven of the eight games he has played in so far this season and done so by making some solid defensive plays. He is batting .221 with three RBI and seven runs scored. He has also collected two doubles so far this season. Caufield is fourth on the team in on-base percentage (.421) due in large part to the seven times he has been hit by a pitch (leads team).