The Oklahoma baseball team will open NCAA Tournament play Friday afternoon in Oxford, Miss. OU (33-24) will play Southern Mississippi (41-19) at 3 p.m. today in a first round matchup.
See below for a recent interview with OU Interim Head Coach Sunny Golloway about his Sooners making the NCAAs and their draw in Oxford.
JH: What are your thoughts on your competition in the regional in Oxford?
SG: "Southern Miss is a very offensive club. They seem to be OK on the mound, but their strength is definitely offensively. They don't like to run a lot and they play station-to-station, but they do have some power in that lineup. The fact that they have gone three straight years and won 40 games every year means they are going to come into the regional with a lot of confidence. I think their offense is definitely going to be their strength.
"A lot of people have told us that No. 1 seed Ole Miss might be the most talented team in the SEC. You don't like to hear that, but it has to be the same thing in that they have to play well if anybody is going to advance this time of the year. No matter how talented you are you have to play well. The team that plays the best is going to advance.
"Maine is coming off a great year and they are going to be sky high. They are going to want to make some noise. They have some storied history of course getting to Omaha back in the late 70s and early 80s. It is a great draw and all three teams are going to be very competitive. We plan on going in there and putting our best foot forward."
JH: How much does it help that you have played a tough schedule?
SG: "With the Big 12 pitching what it is all year, we have faced some of the best pitching in the country. We know these teams have strong arms, but we won't shy away from that because we have been in that battle all year in conference play. Playing Arizona State, Fullerton and other teams that are in the regional, like South Alabama and a lot of our opponents early who are going to be playing in the postseason right now, will help us. That helps our kids' confidence knowing that we have played NCAA caliber teams already. We will be up to the challenge."
JH: Have you played any comparable teams offensively to the teams that you will play in the regional?
SG: "I think potentially that Mississippi could be one of the top Big 12 teams in terms of their offense and their talent. I don't think Southern Mississippi would be there. I think Southern would fit in with a Missouri. They might even mirror our type of club. I don't think it is anything that we go in being overly concerned about, but I do think that we know that we have to play well.
"One thing that I have heard repeated from other coaches is that Southern will not beat themselves. They are very well coached by Corky Palmer, and I think they are going to be a solid team, and I think that is way that we have been over the last 14 to 15 games. We are not going to beat ourselves. You are going to have to put your best foot forward. It should be a great battle two versus three in the regional.
JH: Ole Miss has had some great teams in the past haven't they?
SG: "They really have. Mike Bianco is in there now and he is a former LSU assistant, so one of the things he has done is move the fences in a little bit. He has some more bat speed in his lineup and some big guys, so they try to hit more homeruns. That used to be that way at Death Valley that field used to play so bi, and those outfield walls were way out there. They have now moved them in a little bit, but I still think their ballpark sets up like ours does, but the wind does not blow there. Our outfield speed should be a plus for us if our pitchers can keep the ball in the ballpark. If they do that, then we have a great chance."
Golloway: "We will be up to the challenge"
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