The Oklahoma Sooners (7-2), winners of seven straight games, travel to Fullerton, Calif., to take on UCLA, Cal State Fullerton and Nevada this weekend in the 2005 Kia Bash.
First pitch on Friday versus UCLA is slated for a 3 p.m. start, Saturday against host Cal State Fullerton at 9 p.m. and Sunday’s finale versus Nevada at 1 p.m. All times are central.
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.
Record: 7-7 | Rankings: NA
OU will look for revenge against UCLA after the Bruins knocked the Sooners out of the 2004 Regional in Oklahoma City, handing them two defeats (9-1 and 17-7). After 13 games this season, UCLA is 7-6 and losers of its last three out of four games. Sophomore Hector Ambiz (RHP) is the expected starter for the Bruins on Friday. He is 2-0 on the year with a 1.59 ERA and has struck out 35 batters in 34 innings of work. The versatile Ambiz is also UCLA’s top hitter with a .435 batting average with 20 hits. He is tied for third on the team with eight RBI and leads the club with six doubles. The Sooners are 2-4 under Cochell against UCLA who is coached by John Savage in his fourth year (88-84-1).
CAL STATE FULLERTON NOTES
Record: 7-2 | Rankings: No. 4 (Sports Weekly/ESPN) - No. 4 (Baseball America) - No. 6 (Collegiate Baseball)
Cal State Fullerton, the 2004 NCAA defending national champion, will provide OU with a tough early test in the season as the second ranked opponent the Sooners have faced at the time of competition (Arizona State was No. 12). The Titans come in ranked as high as No. 4 in two of the polls and and have won five of their last six games. CSF’s only losses on the season have come against UNLV and then-No. 6 Stanford. Junior Ricky Romero (LHP) is expected to take the mound for the Titans. Romero has won all three games he has started in this season by striking out 26 batters in 21 innings pitched. He owns a 2.57 ERA as six of the seven runs he has allowed are earned. In the last meeting between the two, the Sooners outlasted the Titans in ten innings by a 5-1 score. Cochell is 2-2 against Fullerton who is coached by George Horton. In eight years with the Titans, Horton is 356-154-1 and led CSF to a NCAA Championship in 2004 with a 47-22 mark.
Record: 6-3 | Rankings: NA
Nevada will be OU’s last opponent in the 2005 Kia Bash and it will mark the first meeting between the two schools. The Wolf Pack have been a team of streaks so far this season, opening the year with two wins while dropping its next three. They are currently on a four-game winning streak after sweeping UNLV by outscoring them 28-17 in three games. Nevada’s starter has not been announced as the team only sports three pitchers who have started on the mound this year. One of them, Travis Sutton, is out with an injury and not expected to play. Junior catcher Brett Hayes has been a consistent bat in the Wolf Pack lineup. Hayes is batting .353 with 10 RBI and a .559 slugging percentage. Nevada is coached by Gary Powers in his 23rd year at the helm (674-514-4).
2004 KIA BASH
Oklahoma wrapped up a Kia Baseball Bash tournament sweep on Feb. 29, 2004 with a 6-2 victory over third-ranked Georgia Tech at Goodwin Field. The Sooners finished tournament play as the only undefeated team in the field with impressive wins over 13th-ranked Cal State Fullerton (5-1) and USC (9-6).
After starting 0-2 at the Coca-Cola Classic, OU has won seven straight games, starting with a 4-1 win over South Alabama. It was outscored 15-10 in the two losses and has outscored the opposition 69-25 since winning its first game. The Sooners are averaging 9.85 runs a game in the span and are batting .323 as a team. In addition, OU is batting .356 with runners in scoring position during the seven wins.
Fans traveling to Sooner baseball games on the road will be able to listen to the Sooner Sports Network radio broadcast on “Road Radio”. At each site, fans using a regular Walkman radio may tune in to a special FM frequency to hear the play-by-play of the game. The frequency for this weekend at the Kia Bash will be 91.9 FM and it will also be announced at the ballpark. The feature is also available at Sooner home games via an open FM frequency (95.5) if the game is not broadcast on KOKC 1520, but it is available on the internet.
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. Garrett Patterson, Steven Guerra and Brad Burns have been stellar with a combined 5-1 record and 2.07 ERA in seven starts. As a group, they have allowed 11 earned runs on 30 hits in 47.2 innings pitched. Patterson leads the bunch with 19 strikeouts (team high) while Burns has the lowest ERA (1.93). Burns also has a save under his belt this season after shutting the door on South Alabama in his first appearance of the season.
GOOD TO BE HOME
After starting the season on the road for the first three games of the season, the Sooners had the luxury of hosting six consecutive games at L. Dale Mitchell Park. In the three game series against Eastern Illinois and Western Illinois the Sooners showed no mercy by racking up the runs on the opposition. OU recorded 35 runs in the opening series against Eastern Illinois and followed that up with 30 more tallies against Western Illinois. OU will play its next four games away from Norman before enjoying another six-game home stand that includes contests against Arkansas Pine Bluff (2), NW Louisiana State (3) and Dallas Baptist (1).
SMITH GETS REDEMPTION
Junior Kevin Smith, who started off the season in a 1-for-13 slump, has rebounded to go 9-for-21 with 12 RBI over the next six contests. Smith is batting .294 and is slugging at a .441 clip. He struggled as OU’s cleanup hitter in the Coca-Cola Spring Classic and was able to settle down batting out of the fifth and sixth spots in the next five games. He made his first appearance as OU’s cleanup hitter (since opening weekend) in the final game against Western Illinois and drove in his team leading 12th RBI.
OU opened the season 1-2 after scoring the game’s initial run in each instance in Surprise, Ariz., and has since went undefeated in the next four games. The Sooners scored first against Eastern Illinois in all three games and despite allowing Western Illinois to take the game’s initial lead in the final two games of the series, OU came back to record the victories. OU has scored the first run in seven of the nine games this season and it is 5-2 in those contests.
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 (two in the top 10). More than half of those contests occur once Big 12 competition begins as Texas (2/1), Texas A&M (15/20), Baylor (14/19), Texas Tech (22/22) and Nebraska (21-ESPN) are all currently ranked in the top 25. Non-conference opponents ranked among the nation’s best include; Cal State Fullerton (4/4), TCU (25/23) and Wichita State (24-ESPN).
KAISER ON A ROLL
Freshman Kody Kaiser continues to impress no matter where he bats in the Sooners’ lineup. The outfielder is riding a nine-game hitting streak and leads the team in hits (17), batting average (.415), slugging percentage (.732) and total bases (30). The Edmond, Okla., has come within one hit of completing the cycle on two occassions this season. In just his fifth collegiate game, 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 Monday 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.
Along with Kaiser, junior Russell Raley has also hit safely in the Sooners’ first nine games. Raley is batting .351 this season with 10 RBI. Senior Matt Bose is currently on a six-game hitting streak. Over that stretch, Bose is hitting .417 with three RBI.
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 makeing some solid defensive plays. He is batting .211 with two RBI and seven runs scored. He has also collected two doubles so far this season. Caufield is second on the team in on-base percentage (.444) due in large part to the seven times he has been hit by a pitch (leads team).
GAME TWO OF TEXAS SERIES MOVED TO 6 P.M. FOR FOX SPORTS NET TELECAST
The second game of the OU/Texas series held in Austin, Texas has been moved to a 6 p.m. (CT) start on Saturday, April 16 to make room for a television broadcast by Fox Sports Net (Oklahoma City-Cox Cable Ch. 37). The game was originally slated to begin at 2 p.m. but was moved as part of a doubleheader in which Nebraska at Texas A&M will be aired at that time. Fox Sports Net plans to air two other Big 12 regular season games (April 30- Texas Tech at Baylor and May 21 - Texas A&M at Texas) in addition to the coverage of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Tournament Semifinals and Championship game.
Senior first baseman Eric Thornton is one of 64 student-athletes on the 2005 Wallace Watch revised on Feb. 15 by the College Baseball Foundation in Lubbock, Texas. He is also one of seven players named from the Big 12 conference (Cliff Pennington, SS, Texas A&M; Cameron Blair, SS, Texas Tech; Ty Wright, DH/ATH, Oklahoma St.; Alex Gordon, 3B, Nebraska; Seth Johnston, SS, Texas; Josh Ford, C, Baylor). The Brooks Wallace Award is presented annually to the national college baseball player of the year. Kurt Suzuki of Cal State Fullerton was the winner of the 2004 Brooks Wallace Award.
The Wallace Watch will be trimmed to 12 semi-finalists by Tuesday, May 24, 2005. Then the selection committee will narrow the list to three finalists following the NCAA Super Regionals at a press conference in Omaha on Thursday, June 16, 2005.
Dedicated to the memory of former Texas Tech shortstop and assistant coach, Wallace was a slick-fielding shortstop at Texas Tech from 1977 to 1980. In the summer of 1984 he was diagnosed with cancer and fought the disease courageously until his death on March 24, 1985, at age 27. The Plano, Texas, native was married to the former Sandy Arnold and they had one daughter, Lindsay Ryan.
The selection committee for the Wallace Award is comprised of a national panel of preeminent coaches, sports information directors, former winners and beat media who most closely follow the sport. Screening Committee members will evaluate the candidates and will continue their review throughout the entire baseball season. Additional Wallace Watch candidates may be added as the season progresses. Voting for the three finalists and the Wallace Award winner will be conducted by confidential balloting, with totals tabulated by the J.W.Anderson & Associates accounting firm in Lubbock, TX.
FALL BIG 12 COMMISSIONER’S HONOR ROLL
Fifteen members of the 2005 OU baseball team were named to the Fall 2004 Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll as announced by the conference office on Tuesday. Freshman Brad Burns and sophomore Aaron Ivey led the way with perfect 4.0 GPAs. Student-athletes must maintain at least a 3.00 GPA for the semester to be recognized on the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll. Other members included: Tyler Adkins, Matt Bose, Jared Freeman, Tyler Gooch, Steven Guerra, Brent Hodge, Kody Kaiser, Chad Lembeck, Blake Mitchell, Ryan Rohlinger, P.J. Sandoval and Cory Williamson.
Junior second baseman Russell Raley is no stranger to conference accolades as the Uvalde, Texas native was selected to the All-Big 12 First Team in 2004. In 2005, the Dallas Morning News named Raley to the preseason All-Big 12 team and after the first three games, he is showing why. Not only has Raley flashed a superb glove in the field, but he also is one of the Sooners top hitters after three games. Raley is hitting .385 (5-for-13) with a run scored, a double and an RBI. His five hits ranks first (tie) on the team in that category and Raley is also tied for the team lead in assists (9).
COCA-COLA CLASSIC ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Dunigan (4-for-10, HR, 3 RBI), Raley (5-for-13, RBI, 2B, run) and Guerra (1-0, 6 IP, one earned run, BB, SO) were named to the 2005 Coca-Cola Classic All-Tournament Team that consisted of 12 members from the four participating schools. Raley and Guerra played key roles in the Sooners’ victory over South Alabama while Dunigan hit his first career home run (a three-run shot) against Gonzaga in game one of the tournament.
2006 RECRUITING CLASS
The program announced in December the signing of 12 new talents during the early signing period which ended earlier this week. The new class is compiled mostly with players coming from two-year colleges as nine of the prospects hail from the junior college ranks. The Sooners also continued to recruit strongly within the Oklahoma high school system as they picked up three of Oklahoma’s top prep players.
The following is a brief look (in alphabetical order) at the Sooners’ 2006 incoming class, click here for more information on each player:
* Righthanded Pitcher - Merced Community College
* Righthanded Pitcher - Sacramento City Community College
*Third Baseman - Owasso (Okla.) High School -
*Lefthanded Pitcher - San Joaquin Delta Community College
*Righthanded Pitcher - Cosumnes River Community College
*Righthanded Pitcher - Modesto Junior College
*Pitcher - Edmond (Okla.) North High School
*Catcher - Norman (Okla.) High School
*Infielder - Sacramento City Community College
*Infielder - Southern Nevada Community College
*Infielder - Modesto Junior College
*Infielder - Cosumnes River Community College