Sooner Baseball Favored to Win Big 12


Thursday, May 26th 2011, 12:12 pm
By: News On 6


Originally Published: Feb 15, 2011 10:43 AM CDT

Oklahoma Sports Staff

IRVING, Texas—Oklahoma baseball has been selected at the preseason No. 1 and favorite to win the Big 12 regular season championship entering the 2011 season.

The Sooners No. 1 rank marks the first time in Big 12 history OU has been selected as the top pick in the preseason poll.

Head coaches around the conference cast their votes and OU received six of the possible 10 first-place votes and 78 overall points to take the top ranking.

In 2010, the Sooners made their 10th College World Series appearance and first trip to Omaha since 1995.

Oklahoma State came in at the No. 6 spot with 37 votes while Texas earned the remaining four first-place 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
National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association -No. 5
Collegiate Baseball -No. 6
USA Today/ESPN Coaches - No. 6

OU returns 20 letter winners from last season's 50-18 team, including seven position players and six pitchers.

Four All-Americans in outfielder Elliot Blair, third baseman Garrett Buechele, right-hand pitcher Ryan Duke and infielder/right-hand pitcher Max White will suit up again for Oklahoma this season.

Oklahoma head coach Sunny Golloway knows there are high expectations for the Soooner squad and says they are ready for challenge that lies ahead.

“It’s the first time we’ve been ranked in the pre-season for three straight years since the 1980’s, so it presents a new challenge and we are going to be up to it,” said Golloway. “We’re going to struggle at times, but we’re going to overcome and be successful and that’s our focus.”

The Sooners start the season Friday hosting William and Mary at 3 p.m.

“We’re trying to play the best baseball that we can at this time and place, so in the middle of February, how good can Oklahoma play baseball and we’re going to focus on playing baseball, not playing our opponents.”

Meanwhile for the Cowboys, they are looking forward to getting started this season and transitioning from the rough season last year.

“The thing that’s changed is that we have better players and better depth than what we’ve had in the last two years which provides us with good competition,” said head coach Frank Anderson.

“We’ve got a core group of pretty good players and that’s going to drive the ship so to speak,” said Anderson. “That gives us the ability to put out some different guys and have some competition at some spots.”

Both squads are excited for the nice weather that has allowed them to get the clubs back out onto the field and do some different drills and activities that they are not able to do inside.

Oklahoma State’s first opponent is Bryant University on the diamond at 4 p.m. in Stillwater.

2011 BIG 12 CONFERENCE BASEBALL PRESEASON COACHES' POLL
Rank Team (First-place votes) Points
1. Oklahoma (6) 78
2. Texas (4) 76
3. Texas A&M 63
4. Baylor 57
5. Kansas State 49
6. Oklahoma State 37
7. Texas Tech 31
8. Nebraska 22
9. Kansas 20
10. Missouri 17
(*Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own teams.)