OU baseball: 3 takeaways from Sooners’ preseason press conference

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Skip Johnson

OU baseball coach Skip Johnson speaks at a press conference Feb. 4, 2019.

Oklahoma Coach Skip Johnson, Cade Cavalli, Levi Prater, Brandon Zaragoza and Jason Ruffcorn held their preseason press conference Friday afternoon.

In 2019, the Sooners finished 33-23 (11-13 Big 12). The Sooners come into 2020 as a consensus Top 25 team despite missing the NCAA Tournament in 2019. The team is ranked 24th by D1Baseball, 19th by Baseball America and 16th by Perfect Game in its third season under Skip Johnson. 

Here are three takeaways from the press conference:

Cade Cavalli and Levi Prater will headline the weekend rotation.

With junior right-hander Cade Cavalli and junior left-hander Levi Prater returning, Johnson said pitching will be the strength of this team. 

The first two days of the weekend rotation seem to be set with Cavalli and Prater, but the Sunday starter has yet to be decided. Johnson mentioned junior Dane Acker, sophomore Wyatt Olds and sophomore Ben Abram as possible options for that role.

“I have a cowboy hat that sits on my counter and I put all of the starters names in that cowboy hat, I haven’t pulled those names out, I’ve pulled two of them so far,” Johnson said. ”Right now it’s Cavalli on Friday and Levi on Saturday,”

The Sooners will have less power but will be more athletic on offense.

In 2019, the Sooners ranked 8th in the Big 12 in home runs with 29 and last in the Big 12 in steals with 29.

With the loss of third baseman Brylie Ware to graduation and Cavalli being primarily out of the lineup, the 2020 lineup will feature less power at the plate than last year. Ware and Cavalli combined for 10 of the 29 home runs the team hit last year. However, with additions such as speedy outfielder Kendall Pettis, the Sooner offense will look to capitalize on its athleticism.

“He is a dynamic athlete,” Johnson said. “He adds an element for us, for sure.”

The Sooners not listening to expectations

After missing the NCAA Tournament in 2019, the Sooners will begin 2020 as a consensus Top-25 team.

The Sooners return eight out of nine everyday starters and three starting pitchers from last year. However, Johnson said he does not want his players to focus on the expectations. 

“If I had expectations, I’d probably go to Riverwind tonight and put some money down, but I don’t,” Johnson said.  “I’m not going to have expectations. The one thing that I do expect our team to do is give effort and play hard.”

The Sooners begin their season with a three-game series against Virginia in Pensacola, Florida on Feb. 14-16.

 

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