Feb. 5, 2010
What are some of this club's strengths?
No question about it ... depth. We have a chance to manage this club better than ever before. This team has interchangeable parts across the board. We have four middle infielders, three players at first base and designated hitter, eight or more outfielders and depth behind the plate despite losing J.T. Wise. This team has speed and power off the bench and left-handed arms in the rotation and out of the bullpen. That gives us the ability to use multiple arms on both sides of the mound, different base runners, defensive specialists and designated hitters or bunters throughout nine innings and across a 56-game schedule.
What are some of this club's weaknesses?
Inexperience. Baseball is like no other collegiate sport and it's certainly different than professional baseball because we don't have a 15-year veteran at shortstop every year like Derek Jeter. There are too many players you have to replace every year with graduation and the draft. We lost seven underclassmen to the draft last season. After the 2008 season, we returned almost the same club in 2009, besides Mike Gosse, and were a national seed in the NCAA Tournament. That is the difference a year of experience makes. This is a young club that has a chance to play together for several years to come and we are excited to get them seasoned.
Garrett Richards was a player you pinpointed last year as a standout out in the fall and then he became a first round pick. What returners came out and displayed some of that same ability this fall?
Even though I don't have him penciled into the rotation, Michael Rocha is going to pitch and he could lead our team in innings pitched. He can be a spot starter in a midweek game or on the weekend. He has the ability be a setup guy out of the bullpen like Chase Anderson was last year. We need to replace that role and Michael and Jeremy Erben can fill that void. They have the experience to stabilize games until we hand the ball over to our outstanding closer in Ryan Duke.
Who do you expect out of this recruiting class to have the biggest impact?
Zach Neal and Bobby Shore. Here are two guys projected to be in our starting rotation, so, obviously, we are expecting big things from them. They know how to win after leading Howard to a national title last year. They are JUCO players and we need some experience and poise in the rotation. Their team was 63-1 last year and they combined for 24 wins. Neal reminds our coaching staff of Andrew Doyle. He is big, strong and he's poised and confident. Neal is a strike-throwing machine. Shore is a really good three-pitch mix guy. He is hard to hit.
The success over the past five years is well documented with the 2006 Super Regional, regional final appearances, individual awards, etc... What can fans expect in the next five years under Golloway?
While we have accomplished a lot of firsts over the past five years with the Super Regional and the national seed last year, this program is still extremely hungry. Our fans should expect great things because that is what we expect. I have always believed that everything in life is about building a foundation. We have established a solid foundation here in Norman and now we need to win championships, and that of course starts with conference titles. We were a half of a game behind Texas in 2004 and 2009, so in the next five years we need to win our share of Big 12 Championships. We have been close in the regular season and in the conference tournament. With the quality of our league, you can argue that is harder to win this conference than get to Omaha, but that can't be an excuse. It has to motivate us to strive for the best. We have players who expect to host regionals and understand the importance of that in getting back to Omaha. I would hope in the next five years, instead of saying we have been in four out of the last five regionals finals, that we will have four or five appearances in the College World Series. Instead of saying we have a regional championship and that we dog piled in Norman, we want to dog pile in Omaha. We won a national title in 1951 and another in 1994, and we need to win another national title. I think our administration, this program and our fans expect nothing less.