Sooners Open 2012 Today at Pepperdine

The Road to Omaha begins today for the No. 14 Sooners, who start the 2012 campaign with a three-game set against the Pepperdine Waves in Malibu, Calif.

OU starts the season for the seventh time in the last nine years on the road.

Lefty hurler Dillon Overton, who posted an 8-4 record with a 2.30 ERA and 55 strikeouts to just 33 walks last year, will get the nod on the hill.

Shortstop Caleb Bushyhead headlines five returning position starters that led OU to a 41-19 overall record and third place finish in the Big 12 (14-11) in 2011.

Pepperdine returns 21 letterwinners from the 2011 team that was 22-34 overall and seventh in the West Coast Conference (7-14).

For Saturday's contests, JUCO newcomers Jonathan Gray and Steven Okert figure to get the starts for OU on the mound.

Tonight's matchup stands as just the second meeting in the series between the two schools.

The Waves topped the Sooners 10-1 back in the 1988 NCAA Tournament in Tempe, Ariz.

MORE INFORMATION ON THIS WEEKEND'S SERIES:

Broadcast Information:
The OU radio broadcast with play-by-play announcer Chris Plank and Craig Moran on color can be heard throughout the weekend on the Sooner Sports Network (KREF 1400 AM in Norman/OKC). Every game in 2012 is also available online at SoonerSports.com. Live stats are also available on SoonerSports.com and a webcast for all three games can be found on PepperdineSports.com.

Player to Watch: Bushyhead:
The senior shortstop is one of three, three-year starters returning in 2012 (Cody Reine and Max White are the others). Bushyhead missed last year's opener and the first 14 games of the season with a torn ACL. The 2010 quarterfinalist for the Brooks Wallace Award (nation's top shortstop) finished last year's campaign strong after batting .340 with 18 RBI in 25 Big 12 games.

OU Picked Third in Big 12 Preseason Poll:
The Sooners were picked to finish third in the 2012 Big 12 Coaches' Poll on Feb. 14. It marks the fourth straight year that the Sooners were picked in the top four spots in the preseason poll. Texas A&M was selected as the preseason favorite to win the 2012 Big 12 baseball regular season title, followed by Texas, OU, Baylor, Missouri, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Kansas State and Kansas. A complete poll is listed on page 5.

Top 25 Polls:
Oklahoma is ranked in the Top 25 preseason polls for the fourth straight year, with its highest recognition coming from the National Collegiate Baseball Writer's Association (NCBWA) at No. 14. OU is also ranked No. 15 by the USA Today/ESPN Coaches' poll, No. 16 by Collegiate Baseball and No. 19 by Baseball America. Turn to page four for all the preseason listings.

Who's Back:
The Sooners return 15 letterwinners and seven starters (five position players, two pitchers) from the 2011 team. In the offseason, the coaching staff signed a class of 21 players that were ranked as high as No. 4 (Collegiate Baseball) in the recruiting rankings. View the listing of each player on page 3.

OU in Season Openers:
--Since 1962, the OU baseball program is 38-12 in season openers. (4-2 under Golloway).
--From 1984 till 2003, the Sooners won 20 consecutive season openers. OU's 24-4 record since 1984 has been a result of outscoring the opposition 280-124, and scoring in double digits in 12 games and averaging more than 10 runs a game.
--The Sooners will be opening up a campaign away from home for the seventh time in the last nine years (2-4) but just the 28th time since 1962. OU is 11-16 when opening away from home, with its last such win in 2010 at SDSU.

Back to Cali:
The Sooners will be traveling to the state of California for the sixth straight season. The only season OU did not travel to the west coast state in the Sunny Golloway era, was his first full season in 2006. Since 2007, OU is 12-3 in the golden state including eight straight wins over the last two years. In 2011, OU defeated San Diego State twice and San Diego and Cal in the Tony Gwynn Classic. In 2010, OU swept a four-game series at San Diego State.

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