The Oklahoma Sooners will host the 2009 Norman Regional at L. Dale Mitchell Park this weekend. The first game of the regional will be a rematch of opening weekend for Washington State and Arkansas. It was then that the Razorbacks swept the Cougars at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville. After Washington State and Arkansas square off in game one at 1 p.m. CT, host Oklahoma will take the field against the fourth seeded Wichita State Shockers at 7 p.m. CT. The Sooners won both regular season meetings with Wichita State this year by scores of 15-0 and 8-1.
The first elimination game is scheduled for Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. CT and will be followed by the winner’s bracket championship game at 7 p.m. CT. On Sunday, the 1 p.m. CT game will be for the loser’s bracket championship, and the first championship game will be at 7 p.m. CT. If necessary, the decisive game seven will be played on Monday at 7 p.m. CT.
(1) Oklahoma (41-18)
The Sooners received the seventh national seed after a second place finish in the Big 12 regular season with a 17-10 league record. The Sooner offense has averaged a very strong 8.3 runs per game this year. The team sports a .322 batting average with 87 homeruns and 65 steals. Catcher J.T. Wise leads the charge with a .374 average, 17 round-trippers, and 61 runs batted in. Short stop Bryant Hernandez, centerfielder Jamie Johnson, and first baseman Aaron Baker each have double digit homeruns on the season as well. Johnson also has a team high 18 steals in 20 attempts.
The Oklahoma pitching staff has a 4.91 team ERA through 59 games this year. The starting pitchers for the Sooners are Andrew Doyle, Garrett Richards, and Michael Rocha. Junior righty Doyle is the staff ace, sporting an 8-4 record with a 3.89 ERA in 13 games and 88 innings pitched. Right hander Richards has been up and down all year, but the talented right hander is 8-4 with a 6.55 ERA in 66 innings with a team high 14 starts and 75 strikeouts. Sophomore righty Rocha, who has split time between starting and relieving, is 5-2 with a 4.24 ERA in 57.1 innings over 19 appearances, including 8 starts. Right hander Chase Anderson has a team high 25 appearances, all out of the bullpen, with a 5.56 ERA and 54 strikeouts in 45.1 innings on the hill. Sophomore Ryan Duke is the Oklahoma closer, and the talented right hander is 3-1 with 15 saves and a 2.78 ERA in 32.1 innings over 24 appearances.
Oklahoma has committed 61 errors on the season, fielding at a .973 fielding percentage. Opponents average 5.3 runs a game against the Sooners this year. The team is a very stout 24-4 at home on the season.
(2) Arkansas (34-22)
The Razorbacks completed the season with a seventh place finish in the SEC, after finishing league play with a 14-15 record. The Razorback offense has struggled at times this season, hitting only .267 for the year with 66 homeruns and 59 stolen bases. Senior infielder Scott Lyons leads the team with a .313 average. Corner infielder Andy Wilkins has a team high 15 homeruns and 40 runs batted in. Senior Ben Tschepikow leads the squad with 15 steals in 20 attempts. The Razorback offense averages 6 runs per game on the season.
The Arkansas pitching staff has a 4.65 ERA in 56 games this year. Brett Eibner and Dallas Keuchel both have a team high 14 starts. Junior lefty Keuchel, who leads the team in innings pitched with 87 and strikeouts with 61, is 7-3 with a 4.14 ERA and is expected to start in game one for the Razorbacks against Washington State. Sophomore right hander Eibner is 4-4 with a 3.90 ERA in 60 innings and is allowing an opponent batting average of only .224. Righty TJ Forrest has 14 appearances, 11 starts, and is 2-6 with a 5.73 ERA in 59.2 innings on the hill. Left hander Drew Smyly has 14 appearances, 12 starts, and is 2-1 with a 5.60 ERA in 45 innings. Middle reliever Mike Bolsinger has 23 appearances out of the pen and sports a 4-4 record with a 3.35 ERA in 51 innings. Senior right hander Justin Wells has 23 appearances, 22 in relief, and a 2-1 record with a 4.47 ERA in 46.1 innings on the mound. Stephen Richards, a left handed junior, has a 1.11 ERA and a 5-1 record with a team high 9 saves in 32.1 innings over 27 appearances.
The Razorback defense has committed 70 errors on the year, and the team is fielding at a .968 fielding percentage. Opponents are scoring an average of 5.5 runs per contest on Arkansas this season. The team is 12-10 in games away from Baum Stadium this year, including 10-8 in true away games.
(3) Washington State (31-23)
The Cougars finished the Pac-10 regular season in second place with a 19-8 league record. On the year, Washington State is averaging about 6.3 runs per game. The team is hitting .278 with 53 homeruns and has a total of 42 stolen bases. Alex Burg leads the club with a .355 batting average in 38 games, and outfielder Jared Prince is hitting .350 in 51 games this year. Catcher Greg Lagreid has a team high 13 doubles and 40 runs batted in. Left fielder Derek Jones has clubbed a team leading 11 homeruns on the season, and centerfielder Garry Kuykendall leads the team with 9 steals in 13 attempts.
The Washington State pitching staff has a 4.36 team ERA in 54 games this year. Staff ace Matt Way will get the ball in game one of the regional against Arkansas. The left handed Way is 8-4 with a 2.49 ERA and has a team high 114 strikeouts in 101.1 innings pitched. Right hander Chad Arnold has a 7-3 record with a 4.71 ERA in 72.2 innings over 15 appearances, including 14 starts. Lefty David Stilley has split time between being a starter and reliever and has a 3-2 record with a 4.47 ERA in 52.1 innings. Senior right hander Jared Prince has a 1-4 record with a 6.05 ERA in 38.2 innings pitched over 8 starts. Junior righty Seth Harvey is a setup man for the Cougars, appearing in 21 games out of the bullpen with a 2.42 ERA in 22.1 innings. Jeremy Johnson is the closer for Washington State, posting a 6-1 record with 9 saves and a 2.83 ERA in 57.1 innings over 26 appearances.
The Washington State defense has committed 61 errors on the year, which gives the team a .971 fielding percentage. Opponents are scoring an average of about 5.3 runs per game against the Cougars. The team is 10-15 in away games this season and 0-2 in neutral site games.
(4) Wichita State (30-25)
The Shockers earned a spot in the NCAA field after winning the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. The team is hitting .277 on the season with 32 homeruns and have swiped 92 stolen bases. Taylor Brown leads the team with a .351 average. First baseman Clinton McKeever is second on the team with a .344 batting average and is the team leader in runs batted in with 42 and is tied with outfielder Ryan Jones for the team lead in homeruns with 6. Second baseman Will Baez leads the Shockers with 15 steals in 20 attempts. Wichita State is scoring roughly 5.4 runs per game on the year.
Wichita State sports a 4.27 team ERA on the season. Starting pitching has been the strength of the team, with all three front line starters having sub 3.00 earned run averages. Righty Tim Kelley leads the squad with 13 starts and 96 strikeouts and has a 5-3 record with a 2.64 ERA in 88.2 innings pitched. Freshman right hander Jordan Cooper has 12 starts on the season and has thrown a team high 89 innings and is 8-5 with a 2.72 ERA. Freshman lefty Charlie Lowell has 11 starts and is 6-2 with a 2.95 ERA in 64 innings and is holding opponents to a .246 batting average. Wichita State has used a closer by committee system so far this year. Freshman right hander Chance Sossamon is 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA and a team high 3 saves in 28 innings pitched. Sophomore right hander Justin Kemp has 15 relief appearances and thrown 25.2 innings out of the bullpen, compiling a 0-2 record with a 6.31 ERA and 2 saves.
The Shocker defense has been shaky at times, committing 76 errors on the year. The team fielding percentage is .964, and opponents are scoring just over 5 runs per game against Wichita State. The Shockers have struggled away from home, going 4-9 in away games and 1-1 in neutral site games this season.
3. Washington State
4. Wichita State