The 25th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners will host an NCAA Regional starting on Friday at the SBC Bricktown Ballpark. The Sooners will open with UCLA at 7:00 p.m., while top-seeded Florida meets Central Connecticut State at 3:00 p.m.
The Sooners like their chances in the regional and OU Head Coach Larry Cochell sat down with OUInsider.com shortly after the pairings were announced on Monday.
JH: What do you think of your draw in your regional?
LC: "First, I think it is very fortunate to be able to host a regional and to be able to stay at home and play in front of our crowd. I think it is going to be exciting for the teams that come in to play at the SBC Ballpark to play in front of our great crowd. So, for Florida, UCLA and Central Connecticut State, I think it is going to be a good regional that our fans can identify with. With Florida coming from the SEC and UCLA coming from the West, they are both name schools, and it is a very good regional."
JH: You told me yesterday that you thought it would be Florida or UCLA in your regional, so how did you know?
LC: "We figured we would get one of those two schools because we didn't feel we were going to get a No. 1 seed, and those two teams were No. 1 seeds that did not bid for a regional. I thought we would get Arizona State and I was surprised that they went to Fullerton. But I have sat on that board and when you have to mix-and-match that is because you can get a look at all the one's, two's and three's and I knew we would get one of the two.
"I am a little disappointed that we finished second in the Big 12 to the No. 1 team in the country (Texas), to the No. 1 seed in the country (Texas), and we finished a half game behind them and they put Florida who was fifth place team in the SEC, I believe, in our region. That surprised me a little bit."
JH: I was surprised that nine teams from the SEC made it into the tournament, including Mississippi State, who did not even qualify for the SEC Tournament.
LC: "I have sat on those committees before and it is hard for me to criticize them when I have been in their shoes before. I know they have more in-depth information than those people that are criticizing them have, and if those people had that same information they would be making the same decisions. However, nine teams out of one conference and the fact that the ninth team didn't not even play in the conference tournament is a valid point.
"What about Creighton? I thought Creighton was a pretty good. They were second in the Missouri Valley and they didn't get into the tournament. The SEC, because of their RPI, makes it very difficult for the mid-levels to get in and I am not sure that is totally fair."
JH: Does it matter to you at all that you are not a No. 1 seed?
LC: "No, not at all as from now on you have to beat good people. Everybody that is coming to our regional has a good No. 1 starter and they are capable of beating any of the other teams in the regional. So, you are going to have to beat the No. 1 and just play good baseball or you go home for the summer."
JH: I realize that you will learn much more about your opponents in the next couple of days, but what do you know about the teams in your regional at this point?
LC: "UCLA traditionally has great athletes and I think they have more players in the Major Leagues than any other college program. They just haven't played well as a team, but they have always had great athletes. So, they will have great athletes. Our fans will remember in 2000 we had UCLA here and I think they had three No. 1 drafts. They won this tournament and then went to LSU and lost and LSU went on to win the College World Series."
JH: You didn't play well in the Big 12 Tournament, but you still have a great confidence in this team don't you?
LC: "Well definitely, because tournaments such as this are all about pitching and we have good pitching. The strange thing about the Big-12 Tournament was that we didn't pitch well. Mark Roberts and Casey Brown were the only two pitchers who pitched well for us. David Purcey didn't pitch well. Daniel McCutchen didn't pitch well and Jarod McAuliff didn't pitch well. That was a strange situation for us because they have pitched well for us all season and they just didn't in that tournament. However, I think we are going to pitch well this weekend and offensively we will need to score and manufacture some runs when we have the opportunity."
Q&A with Larry Cochell
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