Closer Jason Ruffcorn said he wants to help the Sooners return to Omaha, Nebraska, for the annual College World Series.
The expression of his desire capped off a statement he released Friday, announcing his plan to return to Oklahoma for his final season of eligibility instead of signing with the Cincinnati Reds, who selected him in the 18th round of the 2019 MLB Draft.
Ruffcorn was the first of two OU relief pitchers selected in the 2019 draft, going one round ahead of left-hander Braidyn Fink. Fink announced on June 9 that he plans to return to the Sooners as well.
The Sooners failed to make the NCAA Tournament in 2019 — a certain disappointment for the team and its fans — but every player not named Brylie Ware, Nathan Wiles, Blake Brewster and Ryan Madden is expected to return in 2020. Ruffcorn will add his name to a long list of returnees and, though leading the Big 12 in saves is certainly impressive, his value to the team goes beyond his stats and accolades.
A transfer from Texas A&M in the summer of 2018, Ruffcorn fit in with the team from the very beginning and has also served as a mentor for the many freshman and sophomore relievers on the roster, head coach Skip Johnson said. On the field, Ruffcorn struck out 28 batters in 37 innings pitched and maintained a 2.43 ERA.
“He’s been a team guy ever since he’s been here,” Johnson said. “You bring guys in that transfer from other programs, you don’t know what you’re gonna get.”
Incoming sophomore Diego Muniz says he feels bad for opposing hitters when Ruffcorn is on the hill.
“I’m glad (Ruffcorn) is on our team because I’ve faced him and it’s not easy hitting off of him,” Muniz said. “He’s funky, he has a different slot, he throws about 95 miles per hour.”
Ruffcorn says his mindset has greatly improved since joining the Johnson-led Sooners. “There is no place I would rather be right now,” the right-hander said.