Sooners open 2011 season at home Friday at 3 p.m.
Feb. 15, 2011
NORMAN, Okla. -- For the first time since 1995, Oklahoma is the preseason favorite to claim the Big 12 baseball regular season championship heading into the 2011 season, in a vote of the league’s head coaches.
In 2010, the Sooners made their 10th College World Series appearance and first trip to Omaha since 1995. It marks the first time since 1995 that OU was selected as the top pick in the preseason poll.
"Knowing the strength of our conference, it's an honor to be the preseason No.1 team as voted on by our Big 12 peers," said OU Head Coach Sunny Golloway. "With that said, we clearly understand by our recent experience, it's not where you start but where you finish. Our players and staff will remain humble, hungry and driven to return to Omaha in pursuit of Oklahoma's third national championship in baseball."
The Sooners have twice been picked No. 2 in the Big 12 preseason poll (1999 and 2001) with the highest prediction under Golloway coming in 2010 (fourth). In 1995, OU was the No. 1 team headed into the Big Eight season after winning the program's second National Chamionship the previous year.
On Tuesday, OU (78 points) received six of the possible 10 first-place votes while defending Big 12 regular season champion Texas earned the remaining four tallies and 76 points overall. Texas A&M, the 2010 league postseason winner, and Baylor are third and fourth, respectively, followed by Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. Nebraska and Kansas check in at No. 8 and 9, and Missouri fills the final spot.
The Sooners have been the highest-ranked Big 12 team in each of the four major national preseason polls (Baseball America - No. 5 , Collegiate Baseball - No. 6 , National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association - No. 5 and USA Today/ESPN Coaches - No. 6).
OU returns 20 letterwinners from last season’s 50-18 team (15-10 Big 12), including seven position players and six pitchers. Three All-Americans in third baseman Garrett Buechele and infielder Max White and closer Ryan Duke will suit up again for Oklahoma this season.
The Longhorns and Aggies also have been recognized nationally in the preseason top 10. UT has been rated as high as No. 6 (Baseball America, NCBWA) while TAMU is No. 8 in the Collegiate Baseball poll.
The 2011 season gets underway on Friday, Feb. 18 with all 10 league teams in action. OU opens the campaign against William and Mary on Feb. 18 at 3 p.m. at L. Dale Mitchell Park.