University of Oklahoma baseball sophomore Brylie Ware (Sedgwick, Kan.) was named the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year as voted on by the league's coaches and announced Tuesday morning. Ware was also named to the All-Big 12 First Team along with sophomore Steele Walker (Prosper, Texas).
A total of 10 Sooners earned All-Big 12 recognition; the most in program history during the league's 21 years. The previous high for OU was nine in 2013 and 2015.
Ware, who shared the award with Baylor pitcher Montana Parsons, is the Sooners' third Newcomer of the Year all-time; joining Ole Sheldon (2004) and Greg Dobbs (2001). He is the first major award winner at OU since Sheldon Neuse won Freshman of the Year in 2014. Ware, who has split his time between the corner infield spots and designated hitter, earned First Team honors in the DH slot. He is hitting .316 heading into the Big 12 Championship with a .460 slugging percentage and .405 on-base percentage. Ware has scored 34 runs and hit five home runs; all coming since April 30.
Walker, Oklahoma's center fielder, follows up his All-Freshman Team honor from 2016 with the first All-Big 12 First Team selection of his career. He is hitting a team-leading .341, which ranks sixth in the Big 12. Walker is the only player in the league to rank in the top five in hits, runs, doubles and slugging percentage. He is slugging .561 with a team-high 15 doubles and is tied for the team-lead in home runs at eight.
Earning All-Big 12 Second Team honors for the Sooners are senior catcher Renae Martinez (San Pedro, Calif.) and senior right-handed pitcher JB Olson (Shady Shores, Texas). Martinez is a .331 hitter with a .514 slugging percentage on 14 doubles and six home runs. He is a semifinalist for the Johnny Bench Award. Olson, Oklahoma's closer, has appeared in a team-high 27 games in relief. He is 5-1 with eight saves, a 1.70 earned run average and 44 strikeouts in 42.1 innings of work. Olson was an All-Big 12 Honorable Mention a year ago as the Sooner setup man.
Five Sooners were recognized as All-Big 12 Honorable Mention, including senior first baseman Austin O'Brien (Owasso, Okla.) and senior right fielder Ben Hollas (Longview, Texas). They are joined by junior right-hander Devon Perez (Ashburn, Va.), and sophomore right-handers Connor Berry (Sugar Land, Texas) and Jake Irvin (Bloomington, Minn.).
O'Brien was an All-Big 12 Freshman Team and Honorable Mention back in 2014. This season, he is tied with Walker for the team-lead in home runs at eight and is hitting .310, while slugging a team-high .570 by adding nine doubles and four triples. Hollas us hitting .301 with a team-leading .443 on-base percentage and 11 doubles.
Perez came from the bullpen early in the year to claim the Saturday spot in the OU rotation. He is 5-2 with a 3.61 ERA and a team-leading 74 strikeouts. Perez leads the Big 12 with an average of 11.62 strikeouts-per-nine innings and 7.40 strikeout-walk ratio. Berry serves as the setup man to Olson and is 3-0 on the year with a 1.35 ERA. In 20 relief appearances, he has struck out 39 batters in just 26.2 innings and held opponents to a .121 batting average. Irvin, who battled injuries early in Big 12 play, has been the Sooners' Friday starter when healthy. He is 6-1 in 11 starts with a 3.20 ERA and 68 strikeouts.
Freshman shortstop Brandon Zaragoza (Moore, Okla.) rounds out the list of Oklahoma honorees as a member of the All-Big 12 Freshman Team. He is a .256 hitter with 26 runs scored and owns a .975 fielding percentage.
The three-seed Sooners open the Big 12 Championship Wednesday, May 24 at 7:30 p.m. against six-seed Texas at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City.