NORMAN, Okla. — Junior left-handed pitcher David Purcey is showing the great promise that so many major league scouts have talked about since he was a senior in high school.
Purcey, who is off to a dominating 2-0 start and 0.64 ERA after two starts, earned national pitcher of the week honors in college baseball after he shutout then 7th-ranked Arizona State and broke their long 506 game scoring streak.
Purcey is now considered one of the top pitchers in college baseball and gives the Sooners the type of Friday night starter that can win you championships. After the Sooners swept Southeast Missouri State this Sunday, Purcey sat down with OUInsider.com for an exclusive interview.
JH: Last year you had to finish strong to end the year 3-3 with a 5.20 ERA, but thus far you are off to a dominant start. What is the biggest difference between this year and last?
DP: "I think I have been able to put in quality time over the summer from last season and in the fall compared to what I was able to do the summer following my freshman year. I wasn't just throwing in the summer, because I had a good summer coach (Cape Cod) and played on a good team. We concentrated as much on the mental side of baseball as we did the physical. I learned how to think mentally out there and see the hitter and analyze how he is standing in the batters box. That allows me to figure out what pitch to throw by just by seeing how is standing in the box. I am not just standing on the hill and seeing the mitt and throwing it anymore. I think that is the biggest deal."
JH: You finished strong last year during the final month of the season throwing mostly fastballs. How much momentum did you take into the summer and into this year from the end of last year?
DP: "I pitched the last couple of games good, because I laid of the weights and just let my arm relax and loosen up again. I really think that allowed my arm to come back, and when you get the velocity back you get a lot more confidence. I think by having more confidence out there that I went into the summer with a good frame of mind and I have built on that coming into this season. Once my arm came back a little bit I was able to put everything together."
JH: Last year you had no confidence in your curveball, but this year it appears that you have great confidence in your curveball.
DP: "Yeah, definitely. I have a lot more confidence in my curveball. This year I can throw it over just about whenever I want and I am feeling pretty comfortable about that. Now, I am not just a fastball pitcher. I am a fastball, curveball and a good change-up pitcher to keep them off-balanced. This year I am much more prepared to pitch against hitters at this level."
JH: Your change-up has always been the pitch that was the furthest away for you. How far has it come this year?
DP: "It is a great third pitch for me right now. It has a lot of sink and run to it. It just runs away from a right-hander and I am throwing it pretty consistently. I am also throwing it pretty much for strikes, but I don't throw it enough to be real successful with it. I am pretty much fastball-curveball with an occasional change, which is good for an out here and there. I would like to improve on it where I could throw it more often.
JH: What is great about you is that you always have that 92 to 94 mile-per-hour fastball that you can count on when you get in trouble. And that has to be a good feeling for you?
DP: "Yeah, it is really nice to know that is there. Plus, when you get the curveball over they just can't sit back and look for one pitch. That 92 to 94 mile-per-hour fastball looks even harder when I can throw my second pitch. There is a little comfort zone to know that I have a fastball and that can be pretty good at times."
JH: Did you realize the historical significance of the game against Arizona State (7IP, 1H, 5K) during the game?
DP: "I knew about it the year before, and I think I was concentrating on it too much and didn't pitch very well. I didn't know if their streak was still in-tact or not, so I just went out there threw my game, got real comfortable and go into a zone out there. I started to hit the strike zone every time and I didn't realize what I had really done to them until I had come out of the game. I looked at their scoreboard and it said 7 innings pitched and no runs, so I asked if their record was still in tact? That was afterwards and not during the game."
JH: College baseball needs superstars, and over 1,000 fans came out to watch the Sooners on Saturday and many came just to watch you pitch. How does that make you feel to know that people are coming out to watch David Purcey pitch?
DP: "I think it is cool that the fans are coming out to the park. I don't know if it is necessarily to come out and watch me pitch, because we have had some great weather out here and we have a good team this year. It is just fun to come out and watch the team win, play hard and they put all their effort into every game. I like the fact the fans are coming out and watching me pitch, but I really don't think that is the main reason they are coming out. I am just glad we are having a lot of people come out and watch the games."
JH: This is the first year that you are in the No. 1 slot (the Friday night slot). Is that a big deal for you?
DP: "Yeah, I wanted to be in that position last year, but I really struggled a lot in the zone, so I knew I wouldn't be in there. I have found the zone this year and it is really nice going out there and setting the tone for the weekend. I go out and challenge our opponent to hit me if they can, and I feel real comfortable that they aren't going to be able to do that."
JH: The Sooners are off to a 5-1 star. You must have a good feeling about the teams' start?
DP: "It is a great feeling. This whole season we have really had only two bad innings. We had some errors up the middle, which won't happen again and we had one bad inning on the mound where had miss-communication in the bullpen. Overall, we had a great first weekend and a great second weekend, but we have some things we can improve on. We are not where we need to be at all, but we are making good strides."
JH: How good can this team be?
DP: "We can be extremely good, but it will depend on how disciplined we are and how hard we work. Those are the two keys. If we can do that then the sky is the limit."
JH: Some people now feel you can be a Big 12 and national contender. This weekend, you go to California and will play three great programs in Cal-State Fullerton, Southern Cal (#20) and Georgia Tech (#5). You guys must be really looking forward to this weekend?
DP: "This weekend is going to be a good testing ground to see where the other teams in the country are. We plan to go out there and show them that we can play with them.When we beat Arizona State we sent a message to all of college baseball saying that Oklahoma is legit this year and we can beat any team that we play. This next weekend is another proving ground to say that we are here and ready to challenge anybody in the country. In our minds, we will be the best team there this weekend.
Purcey quickly establishing himself as OU's ace
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