In the Big 12 Tournament, opposing coaches made it perfectly clear that they felt to beat OU they needed to keep senior lead-off hitter Chuckie Caufield off the bases. But for the most part this season, that has been difficult to do as Caufield leads the Sooners in hitting (.364 average) to go along with seven homers and 46 RBI. Caufield has also stolen 18 bases on 24 attempts and has played an outstanding right field.
The Sooners are best when they are playing small-ball, running and taking chances on the bases. Caufield spearheads that attack, but soon after finding out who was in the Sooners regional he slowed down long enough to talk to OUInsider.com.
JH: What are your thoughts on the NCAA Regional draw and the fact you get to play at home?
CC: "It is an honor and something that we set out to do from the start — to come out and play in front of our home fans. I know we are going to have great support form our fans and we plan on giving them a great showing."
JH: What are your thoughts on the three teams joining you in the regional?
CC: "I am not surprised about anything in the NCAA Tournament. All we can do, and all I can do, is go out and take care of what you can take off. That is something that we don't control, who is in our regional. We know there are three real good baseball teams coming to Norman and it is going to be a great regional."
JH: What kind of feeling was it when you were watching ESPN and they showed all the teams in your regional, one of which is going to be hosted by OU?
CC: "I had to call coach yesterday (Sunday) to find out if we were hosting. I wasn't watching at that time, so that made me overwhelmed. Then watching the selection show with my teammates was just awesome."
JH: You have played two of the three teams, so you should know something about these teams?
CC: "We ran into TCU and Wichita State, so they are two teams that we know something about. I don't know much about Houston, but I am excited to see what they have. I know they have a good team."
JH: Coming off the OSU victory to end your season, were you able to get the bad taste out of your mouth from the first two games in the Big 12 Tournament when you didn't play good baseball?
CC: "The main thing was to get something going so that we could maintain some momentum to carry it over to this week. The guys showed a lot of confidence and a lot of character playing that last game. I think we did put all that behind us."
JH: Throughout the Big 12 Tournament, all of the opposing coaches kept talking about how they had to keep you off the bases. Did you realize that you were the focal point of every opponent's defensive game plan?
CC: "It is just the fact that I am the lead-off batter. That would be the case for any lead-off batter, because your lead-off batter has to get on base. It doesn't matter how you get on base, but you have to get on base. I know the type of player that I am because I am dirty all the time. I am on the base paths, and that is my game. I need to be running for our offense to be going. So when I am not on base it is tough for our offense to get going."
JH: What got the team going so well against OSU on Saturday in the 21-6 win?
CC: "It just comes down to making adjustments. You can either go one way and keep not having success, or you can make adjustments and make some changes to find something that will work for you. I have been fishing around because I know what I can do. I got up on the plate a little bit and kind of switched things up and eventually got everything working."
JH: Does the fact that you played well in the NCAAs last year give you confidence going into the regional this year?
CC: "The only thing that I can control is to go out every day and play hard. That is all that I can do, is give all that I got. If it happens it happens, and if it doesn't it doesn't. But I do what I can, then I know I gave it all that I had."
JH: Don't you guys have to start runners, steal bases and bunt well to have success offensively?
CC: "Bunting and stealing bases eventually leads up to the long ball. You do the fundamental things on offense and get the defense moving and the pitcher thinking about different things, and then you can get some opportunities for the long ball. We need to always execute with small ball and then the homeruns will come. Everybody needs to know their role and how they contribute to the team's success, and then go out and execute it."
JH: What are your thoughts on your first opponent (TCU)?
CC: "We ran into them a couple of times (2 OU wins) and they are going to put up a good fight. All we can control is going out and playing together, playing our game and see what happens."
Tickets for the regional are still available at 325-2424 or on SoonerSports.com.
Caufield sets the tone for OU's offense
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