Norman Regional Pregame Presser

OU head coach Sunny Golloway, along with sophomore shortstop Caleb Bushyhead, senior pitcher Jeremy Erben and junior second baseman Danny Black, met for a pregame press conference before their meeting with Oral Roberts tomorrow, and here's what they had to say.

OU head coach Sunny Golloway:

Opening statement—We're excited. Our players, our coaches, everybody involved with our program is extremely excited to get started here at the Norman Regional. And we've got an outstanding field, a very competitive field. There's some teams that are playing really good baseball right now. We've got some baseball programs that have a lot of experience in the postseason when you think about Oral Roberts and their string of 13 [straight conference tournament championships] and when you think about North Carolina and how many times they've gone to Omaha recently, [and the] Cal Bears. I'm familiar with their program and their coach and even their history with Coach Bob Milano and what he meant to their program for so many years on the West Coast, as I recruited as a young assistant here at Oklahoma, and then I think here at the University of Oklahoma, with our College World Series appearances, our national championships, the fact that we've hosted three out of the last five, we've got a lot of respect, so we've got a tremendous regional field, and we're looking forward to getting started and competing.

On the connections between OU and ORU—Well, I think that when you think about Oral Roberts and the fact that how are programs are connected, that starts with Larry Cochell. Larry Cochell took Oral Roberts University to a College World Series, and, you know, that had a lot to do with me taking over as a young assistant here at Oklahoma, going to Oral Roberts at that time, you know, the program has been down for quite a few years. I think the fact that Larry Cochell has been there before, it spoke well with his experience at Oral Roberts. Bill Self did a great job recruiting me to come over there and be one of his peers at that time as he coached the basketball program, and we're good friends. So I'm familiar with that program, the first six regionals, and then my assistant for five years, Rob Walton, taking over. And there's a lot of things also to look back on. I think any time any coach with any kind of work to him, he wants to leave a program in much better shape than when he got there, and I know when I came back to the University of Oklahoma, that's exactly how it felt. Unfortunately, and I don't like saying this, but there's people on that side that didn't like my decision, but again, that was my decision, and I don't like the way they handled it, quite honestly.

On the double elimination tournament format and what it brings—All year we are built on mental toughness. I'll be the first to tell you we are pretty tough on our guys during the season. We don't allow hits to go down or any kind of failure to be shown on the outside. We understand when we make mistakes, we understand we aren't doing things we are trained to do. Our mental toughness comes to a forefront when our backs are to the wall. Our players are trained that their backs are to the wall in double elimination when you have lost one game. It's a format we train for all year and we have been pretty successful. We have only lost two weekend series this year and last year. That is pretty remarkable when you look at the consistency of our program over the course of time. I like the fact that the NCAA Championships is set up in that format. I do believe you claim a true champion in the team that is playing the best at that particular time when you do that.

On the pitching rotation—We feel pretty good about how we rolled the guys out at Bricktown. [Michael] Rocha did a great job in that opening game, so we are going to start it out with Michael Rocha tomorrow. The key for us [is] not so much how we roll our guys out, we have guys throwing really well right now and the key for them is to get ahead of hitters and to force contact with their pitch. We will start out with Rocha and come back with [Zach] Neal like we did in the past. The toughest decision will be [Jack] Mayfield or Bobby Shore at that point.

Sophomore shortstop Caleb Bushyhead:

On refocusing after getting swept against UT—After a loss, it's always really hard and tough. After a loss it really makes a team focus and get back on the right track the very next weekend to come back out and win games. Like Coach G (Coach Golloway) said on mental toughness, after losing three it is pretty easy to put your head down and think, ‘man we are just going downhill now.' We are not a club like that. I really do think we are an extremely tough club and we were going to come back and win after that weekend. I think that is what we showed throughout the remainder of the season.

Senior pitcher Jeremy Erben:

On how losing in last year's regionals motivated them for this time around—For the guys back, it is another shot to get to Omaha. Last year, we were unfortunate to run into a hot team and Arkansas was playing well. We feel like we are the hot team now and that we are on that push to Omaha. We have our heads on right and we know what we have to do. We think it is going to be really hard for someone to come in and beat us twice at home, just because that really hasn't happened all year. We are just looking forward to tomorrow and getting the regional started.

Junior second baseman Danny Black:

On how the 13-2 win against Kansas State helped build momentum for this weekend—It was important for us because we wanted to stay on the roll that we've been on the last few weeks. We've been excited and we've been getting on a roll and building up, and we feel like we are as hot as anyone in the country right now. That last game just showed it with good pitching and we hit really well too.

Follow me at twitter.com/joeyhelmer10 or facebook.com/joeyhelmer.

Sooners Illustrated Top Stories