Baseball: USAO Season Preview

*Follow @NAIABall on twitter for the best NAIA Baseball Coverage*

The Drovers come into 2020 after an impressive 2019 season where they went 49-12 and would add another trip to NAIA World Series to its resume. In the World Series the Drovers would come within one game of the championship game going 3-2 in the tournament. The Drovers have high hopes again as they come into the season ranked #3 in the country and ranked #1 in the Sooner Athletic Conference preseason polls.
The Drovers 2019 pitching staff ranked 1st in the NAIA in ERA with a 2.47 team ERA and also were top ranked in strike outs with 554 on the season. In the 2020 season they will be returning the big 3 on the mound. Colton Williams, Matt Merrill and Jean Muntaner. In 2019, Williams went 16-0 with a 1.33 ERA in his 108.2 innings pitched. Merrill went 11-3 with a 2.50 ERA in his 86.1 innings pitched for the Drovers and Muntaner went 13-1 on the season with a 2.86 ERA in his 94.1 innings pitched. The Drovers will also have returning from the 2019 season, Ricardo Velez who really emerged on the stage during the World Series where he was dominant for the Drovers. In that World Series Velez threw 9 innings, with 113 strikouts and allowed just 1 run. Adam Moraga should be a good piece for the Drovers this season. Last season Moraga went 7-4 with a 3.95 ERA for Pima CC in Tucson, Arizona.

Starting Pitcher Matt Merrill said “All our guys are locked in and ready to get out there. I wouldn’t be surprised if we brought back the World Series trophy this year.

The Drover offense will see some new faces this year and are coming off a 2019 season where they finished 4th in the NAIA in team batting average with .338 and 7th in Runs Batted In per Game with 8 runs per game. The Drovers will return the whole outfield from the 2019 season, in Ian Laureano, Luis Pelayo and Cristian Laboy. Laureano hit .364, with 45 RBI’s and 5 home runs including the walk-off to send the Drovers to the World Series. Pelayo will play a big piece in the USAO offense this season, as he hit .393 with 64 RBI’s and 8 home runs for the Drovers. Laboy hit 287 with 12 home runs and 46 RBI’s. The offense will be getting the addition of shortstop, Gus Wilson who played in 40 games for Galveston College where he hit .321 with 17 RBI’s on the season.

Starting outfielder Ian Laureano said “Just grateful that I can play another season under Coach Ross and excited for what the season is going to bring for us.

The Drovers season is set to begin on the road Friday, January 24 when they travel to Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas. First pitch for this game is set for 1:00 PM CT. USAO will play its first home game on Saturday, February 1 against The University of Saint Mary.

381V3120.JPG

Women’s Basketball: Drovers and Evangels Set To Battle in Chickasha

Coming into this marquee matchup both teams remain unbeaten in the Sooner Athletic Conference as the Mid-America Christian Evangels (7-2, 2-0 SAC) head down to Chickasha, Oklahoma to take on the USAO Drovers (7-3, 2-0 SAC). The standing currently stand with the Evangels in 3rd and the Drovers locked in at the 4th spot.

The Evangels offense averages 82 points per game coming into this contest but the eye catching stat is the rebounding ability. Mid-America comes into this game ranked 2nd in offensive rebounding with 19 rebounds per game. The Evangels also rank 4th in the country in total rebounds per game as they are grabbing 48 per game. The defense for Mid-America allows just 65 points per game as they are holding opponents to 38% shooting from the floor on the season.

The Drovers offense has put up 78 points per game and are ranked 16th in the nation in field goal percentage, shooting 44% from the floor. The Defense for the Drovers has been the major key to the success to this team as they rank 2nd in blocked shots with 6 per game. The USAO defense has been very solid all year long as they have forced opponents to 33% from the floor to put them 9th in the country. Ball security has been another piece to the puzzle for the Drovers as they have been only turning the ball over 12 times compared the 19 they have been forcing per contest.

Friday’s matchup is set for a 6:00 p.m. CT tip at Drover Fieldhouse in Chickasha, Oklahoma.

What To Know About USAO:

The Drovers are led by Reyna Ammons, Milagros Carrera and Khady Sene. Ammons, (5-6 Senior) is currently leading the team in scoring with 19 points per game. She also leads the team in steals. Ammons is ranked 8th in the nation in steals with 4 per game. Carrera, (5-9 Freshman) is putting up 14 and has added 4 rebounds per game for the Drovers. The Freshman is shooting an impressive 50% from the floor that ranks her 26th in the country. Sene, (6-3 Senior) has had an impressive start to her Senior campaign as she is averaging 8 points per game and has been dominating the board with 10 rebounds per game. Sene has been a huge part to the USAO defense, picking up 3 blocks per contest.

Senior Guard Reyna Ammons said “Coming out we need to have the right mindset and come out strong to begin with, lately we been having flat starts. we need to continue to be solid on the defensive end but also on the offensive. We need to execute our plays and secure all rebounds on both ends of the court through all 5 players. Also, if everyone does the little things; communicating, being selfless, and hustling, we will be one hard team to beat tomorrow.

The Drovers are coached by Darrick Matthews, who is in his 5th year with USAO. Assistant coaches are Sirena Matthews and Olivia Chapman.

What To Know About Mid-America:

The Evangels are led by Alexis Shannon, Lexi Hernandez and Loralei Siliga. Shannon, (5-11 Senior) has been dominate so far in the season averaging 19 points and 7 rebounds for Mid-America. Shannon ranks 7th in the nation in points per game. Shannon has been In command down low and she has proven she can shoot it from behind the arc, shooting 14-30 on the year. Hernandez, (5-6 Junior) is currently averaging 13 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists per game for Mid-America. She also averaging 3 steals per game which ranks her 27th in the nation. Siliga, (5-11 Senior) has averaged 11 points and 7 rebound per game. Siliga ranks 7th with an impressive 62% field goal percentage from the floor so far this season.

Senior Forward Alexis Shannon said “We are excited for tomorrows game. It’s going to be two really good basketball teams going head to head. With similar records, I think both us and USAO are going to bring all we have on the court tomorrow. It should be a fun game to play in and to watch.

Mid-America is coached by Hannah Moeller, who is her 4th season with the Evangels. Assistant coaches are Kelsie Dutton and Logan Martin.

Series Record:

Dating back to 2006, these two teams have faced off 27 times and the Evangels own the series with a 15-12 record.

How To Watch:

Stretch Internet USAO

381v6367

Sooner Athletic Conference: Weekend Series Previews

USAO VS Central Christian

This series is set to be played March 16 and March 17, it will be played at Central Christian. The USAO Drovers (10) come into this series, with a very respectable 17-3 record. The Central Christian Tigers, will come into this series with a record of 4-24. The Tigers are coming off a huge 6-5 win over the Oklahoma City Stars, on Monday.

On the offensive side the Tigers are led by, Shomari Cann. He is hitting .366 with 4 home runs, and 14 RBI’s. The Tigers are getting outscored 294-95 on the season. The Tigers pitching staff is carried by Cameron Bonds, he has thrown 19 2/3 innings and is 2-0 with a 10.07 ERA. Bonds wins have come against Southwestern Christian and Oklahoma City. The Tigers have a combined .230 batting average, as they are allowing a .351 batting average.

The Drovers are on top of the Sooner Athletic Conference, as they have a 17-3 record and are 5-1 in the SAC. They are coming of a loss to SWOSU, where they would be defeated 8-5. The Drovers bats, just continue to stay hot, as they are led by P.J. Garcia. He is hitting ..476 with 5 home runs, and has 23 RBI’s. Another notable bat for USAO is Greg Barnette, as he is hitting .429 with 3 home runs, and 20 RBI’s. The bullpen is led by Angel Reyes, as he has a 2.50 ERA and is 2-0 on the season. Reyes is holding oppenents to a .152 batting average.  This starting pitching staff, is very strong with a combine 3.33 ERA. They are led by two Seniors, Jose Hidalgo and Francis Ventura. Hidalgo is 3-1 with a 2.00 ERA, and oppenents are hitting .190 against him. Ventura is currently 3-0 with a 1.56 ERA, he has kept the ball inside the ballpark as he has allowed 0 home runs on the season.

March 16– 6:00 P.M.

March 17- 1 & 3 P.M.

USAO Head Coach Mike Ross said “We haven’t been on the road in awhile so that will be a challenge. CC had a big win this week so they are playing good. We have to be ready to play and not take anything for granted”

Wayland Baptist Vs Southwestern Christian (Okla.)

This series is set to begin on March and finish up on March 17, this series will be played at Wayland Baptist in Plainview, Texas. The Wayland Baptist Pioneers (18), come into this series with a 17-7 record. They are coming off a 10-7 victory, over Our Lady Of The Lakes University. The Southwestern Christian Eagles, come into this series with a 16-7 recond. They are coming off a 15-9 win over Tabor, and last weekend they swept Oklahoma Panhandle State.

The Eagles offense ranks 8th in runs scored per game, with 9 runs per game. The pitching staff is also hold oppenents to a low .215 batting average. The offense is led by Slayton Vaughan, as he is hitting .405 and has hit 4 home runs. He is also has a .494 on base percentage, which is the best on the team. The bullpen, is carried by Shelby Sherrill. He has thrown 18 1/3 innings, has still yet to give up a run. Sherrill is also 2-0 on the season, including wins over Southwestern and Tabor. The pitching staff is carried by Victor Del Carmen and Juan Carlos Gonzalez. Carmen is 4-1 with a 2.06 ERA, and Gonzalez is also 4-1 with a 2.21 ERA.

The Pioneers offense, is ranked 4th in home runs per game with 1.33. This Wayland Baptist offense is explosive at times, and they are led by Gregg Veneklasen. He is hitting .390, 6 doubles, and has 11 home runs which is 1st in the NAIA. Another key to this offense, is Nick Rucker. He is hitting .371 with 8 doubles, and 4 home runs. This bullpen is led by Jonathan Frost, as is 3-1 with a team best 2.04 ERA. He is also holding oppenents to a .239 batting average. The pitching staff is led by Kevin Torres, he is 3-1 with a 2.91 ERA. Torres has thrown 34 innings, and has thrown 2 complete games.

March 16- 4 & 7 P.M.

March 17- 1:00 P.M.

Texas Weslayan Vs Southwestern Assemblies of God University

This series is set to begin on March 16 and rap up on March 17, they will be playing one game on the 16th at Texas Wesleyan and two game on the 17th at SAGU. The Texas Wesleyan Rams (18), are coming into this series with a 14-7 record. The Rams are coming off a 13-4 Win against LSU Alexandria. The SAGU Lions are 8-17, and are 1-11 in conference play. The Lions are coming off a 9-5 loss, against Jarvis Christian.

The Rams offense, is led by Kiki Menendez. He is hitting .375 with 6 doubles and 6 home runs. Menendez also has a .440 on base percentage. The Rams are loaded with great arm, as they have a combined ERA of 4.28. The bullpen is carried by Alex Davis, as he has thrown 20 2/3 innings and has a 2.18 ERA. Davis is holding hitter to a .178 batting average. The starting pitching staff, is led by Brad Sugg and Stephen Yancey. Sugg is 4-0 on the season, with a 2.20 ERA. He is holding hitter to a .215 ERA. Yancey is 3-2 on the season, with a 2.21 ERA. He has thrown 43 strikeouts on the season, and is holding hitters to a .180 batting average.

The Lions offense is led by Jake Payonk, as he is hitting .351 with 5 doubles and 1 home run. The bullpen is led by Houston Johnson, as he has thrown just 4 1/3 but still hadn’t gave up a run. Johnson is holding hitter to a .188 batting average. The Starting pitching staff is led by Lorenzo Galicia. He has thrown 20 1/3 innings and has a 4.87 ERA. In the last conference series the Lions played, they were able to beat Bacone once by the score of 2-1.

March 16- 3:00 P.M. @Texas Wesleyan

March 17- 1 & 3 P.M. @SAGU

Texas Wesleyan Head Coach Bobby Garza said “We are entering the final 3 games of a 9 games in 9 days stretch. The players have done a great job of handling this period of the schedule. We are coming off 2 good wins and look forward to finishing the weekend strong.”

Oklahoma City Vs Bacone

This series is set to begin on March 15th and finish on March 17th, they will play one on the 15th at Bacone and two on the 17th at Oklahoma City. The Oklahoma City Stars (4) are currently 17-5. The Stars have hit a little rough patch as they have lost 3 in a row, including dropping 2 conference games to Wayland Baptist and Central Christian. The Bacone Warriors are 7-15, and are coming off  a 10-3 loss against Texas College.

The Stars are ranked number 1 in runs scored per game, with 10 per contest. The offense is carried Lane Milligan, as he is hitting .474 with 8 triples and 4 home runs. Lane Milligan has also drove in 29 stars during the season. Another big contributor to this offense is Garrett Foster. He is hitting .421 and has 13 doubles and 4 home runs. The bullpen is carried by Tanner Andrews, as he has thrown 8 inning and has a 2.25 ERA. Andrews has held oppenents to .172 batting average. The starting pitching staff is held down by Bryce Milligan. He has thrown 27 innings and has a 2.67 ERA. Milligan is holding hitters to a .173 batting average.

The Warriors offense is led by Corben Henry. He is hitting .326 and has 3 triples, and has drew 19 walks on the season. The bullpen is led by Alex Dominguez, as he has throw 4 2/3 innings, and has a 1.93 ERA. Dominguez has struck out 8 batters, and only allowed 1 walk. The starting pitching staff, is led by Kyler Johnson. He is 2-3 on the season, with a 4.31 ERA and he is holding hitters to a .281 batting average.

March 15- 2:00 P.M. @Bacone

March 17- 1 & 3 P.M. @Oklahoma City

Oklahoma City Head Coach Denney Crabaugh said “We have to show up mentally and emotionally ready and focused on doing the things that we need to do to win ball games if we do that then I’m confident the scoreboard will take care of itself”

See the source image

Q&A With Steele Walker

I recently conducted a interview with Oklahoma Baseball player Steele Walker. Last season Walker hit .333 and had 8 homeruns.

Question 1:

Q: Growing up who did you admire the most? Why?

A: “I admired my two older brothers man. They were great athletes who put Christ first in their lives. As I got older I came into myself, but as a young one it was my two older brothers who I looked up to.”

Question 2:

Q: Explain what it’s like to be apart of the University Of Oklahoma?

A: “It is a blessing for me to be at a first class program and be around amazing athletes each day. The tradition and winning mindset at this university has only made me better. I’m very thankful to be here.”

Question 3:

Q: Explain the transition from high school to college baseball

A: “You really can’t prepare yourself enough for the transition. You almost have to get thrown into the fire and find a way to survive! My biggest adjustment was having to go from getting by with pure athleticism, to becoming a complete, polished, and refined player. The higher you go up the stiffer the competition, so you have to find a way to continue to progress yourself. It takes motivation and you have to be intentional about what you’re doing.”

Question 4:

Q: What was the best advice you have been given? And by who?

A: “The best advice I have been given is from the Bible. Matthew 6:33 says “but seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you” I give God my first love, and He leads me day by day. This goes for school, friendships, baseball, family, etc. God always gets the first love. It’s a daily thing because our hearts always want to grab onto things. But the Lord is very sweet and cares for us. He is patient and compassionate. I’m thankful for His grace on me.”

Question 5:

Q: What made you chose the University Of Oklahoma?

A: “Growing up I was a Texas fan, but I didn’t hear much from them during the recruiting process. It was somewhat narrowed down to Arkansas, Texas A&M, and OU. However, once I came on a visit, I saw the lovely campus and the value they placed on me as a player even at a young age. I knew I had a chance to come in and play quickly, and that meant a lot to me. I liked the emphasis they put on academics and creating a winning atmosphere.”

Question 6:

Q: What is your favorite baseball memory?

A: “Playing for Team USA this summer on the Fourth of July, against Cuba. We won the game and the whole stadium was sold out. It was nice to be apart of that.”

Question 7:

Q: What is your normal routine before a baseball game?

A: “I keep it super chill man. Listen to some nice music, and keep calm. I’m not a hype guy. I like taking it easy, being relaxed. Hanging with my teammates!”

Question 8:

Q: Since being at Oklahoma, what do you think you have most improved at?

A: “My preparation and maturity as a player. Learning how to handle failure the right way.”

Question 9:

Q: In your opinion what is the best part about playing college baseball?

A: “First off it gives you the chance to compete against elite competition all over the country. But it also gives you friends that last a lifetime.”

Question 10:

Q: How do you want your teammates to remember you?

A: “I want them to remember my love for God, my love for my team and winning, and also the guy that anyone can come to if they need to talk or want advice or anything.”

Just wanted to thank Steele Walker for taking the time to do this interview, and hope the Sooners have great success this season. I also want to say thanks to Brock Henderson, for setting up the interview.

Basketball: Sooners Look To Continue Their Scoring Game

Date: November 23, 2017

Time: 4 p.m. CT

Radio: Sooners Sports Radio (107.7 the Franchise) Toby Rowland (PxP) and Kevin Henry (Analyst)

Tv: ESPN2| Roxy Bernstein (PxP) and Bill Walton (Analyst)

The Oklahoma basketball team has got off to a great start, with a 2-0 record. The Sooners put their 2-0 record to the test in the first round of the PK 80 verses the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Oklahoma opens up it’s time in Portland, with a Thanksgiving day matchup with Arkansas that is set to tip off at 4 p.m. CT. This game should be a pure fight for both teams, with Oklahoma lead the nation with 108 points per game and Arkansas averaging 93 points per contest.

Oklahoma is led by Trae Young, who has led the country with 11.5 assists per game. Young is the first Sooner to record consecutive point-assists double-doubles since John Ontjes in the 1994-95 season.

The Sooners have beat up on oppenents in its first two game, Oklahoma has logged 108 in both of the first two games. They have been led by great shooting. The Sooners are ranked 6th in field-goal percentage, sitting at 56 percent.

Fun Facts about the Sooners:

  • The Sooners are 2-0 when they have more point in the paint, then their opponent.
  • Oklahoma is 2-0 when they outrebound their opponent.
  • The Sooners are 2-0 when they more fastbreak points then their oppenent.

The Sooners are getting great production from Freshman Brady Manek, he is averging 11 points and 6 rebounds per game.

The Sooners starting 5 consists of Trae Young, Christian James, Rashard Odomes, Brady Manek and Khadeem Lattin. The starting 5 for Arkansas include Jaylen Barford, Trey Thompson, Adrio Bailey, Daryl Macon and Anton Beard.

This wont be the first time these two team have met, the series is standing at 15-12 in favor of Arkansas. Arkansas has the 3-0 lead at neutral site games.

Thanks to the Norman Transcript for this photo

Sneek Peek: Oklahoma vs West Virginia

This isn’t the first time we have seen coach Lincoln Riley and coach Dana Holgorsen, come across each other. These two crossed paths while they both were coaching at Texas Tech.

What’s at stake:

For Oklahoma, all they will need to do is win, and they should be put into the college football playoffs.

Oklahoma’s Strengths:

  • Their ability to run the ball effectively with 4 different backs. The 4 backs are Rodney Anderson, Trey Sermon, Abdul Adams and Dimitri Flowers.
  • Ability to throw the ball downfield with extreme accuracy. Baker Mayfield is averaging 11.6 yards per throw and Kyler Murray is getting 16.1 yards per attempt.
  • The offensive line for Oklahoma, does such a great job at opening up a hole and protecting the quarterback. They are known as the best offensive line in the country.
  • The Sooners are very fortunate to have two very great options at the tight end position. The first option is Mark Andrews and the 2nd option is Grant Calcaterra.

Oklahoma’s Weaknesses:

  • The corners on defense. Even though this defense gained two new Freshman with Tre Brown and Tre Norwood they still have room for improvement.
  • The quarterback situation. We still don’t know when Mayfield will be able to enter the game, but until then Kyler Murray will get the start.
  • The Sooners are very young on defense. Being young can be good and bad. The reason it can be bad is because the game is very fast and you don’t want to get caught napping.

West Virginia’s strengths:

  • Offense. Even with quarterback Will Grier not playing due to a broken finger, this offense still has Justin Crawford. Crawford has 7 rushing touchdowns on the season.
  • Defense in big situations. This defense is holding opponents to 33 percent on third down plays.

West Virginia’s weaknesses:

  • Lack of defensive pressure. This defense has just 17 sacks on the season, but they will need to bring there A-game if the want to sack Murray or Mayfield.
  • Quarterback depth. Backup Chris Chugunov will be making the start for Grier. Chugunov completed 14/26 for 189 yards and 1 touchdown last week against Texas.
Justin Crawford (Top) CeeDee Lamb (Bottom)

Breaking News: Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops To Retire

Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops will retire after 18 seasons as the head football coach, Barry Tramel of the Oklahoman reports.

Following this change 33-year-old offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley will take over and lead the team this season.

Stoops leaves Oklahoma with a 190-48 record, 10 conference titles in the Big 12 and a 2001 National Championship.

Stoops also produced a pair of Heisman trophy winning quarterbacks in Jason White and Sam Bradford.

With Stoops out, Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz is now the longest tenured FBS coach.

TheLead365 will continue to update this breaking news story.

 

Image result for bob stoops
Thanks Fox Sports for this photo.