Norman Regional Capsule

No.
1 Oklahoma (40-19)
29th
appearance, at-large, Big 12

No.
2 Houston (39-20)
16th
appearance, at-large, Conference USA

No.
3 Wichita State (44-20)
24th
appearance, at-large, Missouri Valley

No.
4 Texas Christian (38-21)
Fifth
appearance, automatic, won Mountain West regular season and
tournament

Every
out is vital in the postseason, and no team gave away fewer than
Oklahoma, which led the nation with a .982 fielding
percentage. That’s the sign of a veteran team, and the Sooners
certainly are that with four seniors starting in the infield. Another
senior, Chuckie Caufield, starts in right field and sparks the lineup
from the leadoff spot with a .364-7-43 line that includes 60 runs and
18 steals. The pitching staff also is flush with fourth-year players,
including all three starters and closer Will Savage. Righthander
Daniel McCutchen (8-7, 3.73, 122 strikeouts) fronts the rotation. OU
jumped out to a 35-10 start that included a 13-game win streak before
finishing the year 5-9.

Houston
isn’t a one-man team, but junior Brad Lincoln did more than his share
to help the Cougars into the postseason for the first time in his
career. His mid-90s fastball helped him go 12-1, 1.64 with a 147-27
K-BB ratio in 121 innings, and he didn’t suffer a loss after
February. Meanwhile, he delivered 13 home runs as the regular DH and
led the team with 52 RBIs. Lincoln wasn’t the only two-way star on
the roster; freshman Luis Flores (.297, eight homers; 6-3, 3.00)
routinely started the first two games of weekend series behind the
plate before switching to the other end of the battery on Sunday. San
Diego transfer Matt Weston led the team with 15 homers.

Wichita
State
won 44 games, but finished third in the MVC and felt
relieved to sneak into the postseason for the 24th time in 27 years.
The Shockers rely on pitching and speed, posting a 3.47 ERA behind
righthander Aaron Shafer (10-3, 2.73), who won MVC pitcher and
freshman of the year honors. Wichita stole 129 bases, more than any
team in regionals not named Prairie View, led by Kenny Waddell (35)
and Josh Workman (33). That was a necessity for a team that hit just
28 homers. More than a third of those came from second baseman Damon
Sublett, the Valley player of the year after batting .394-10-45 and
saving seven games. But Sublett broke his hamate bone in early May.
He tried to return during the conference tournament before leaving
the game because he couldn’t swing the bat.

If
power pitching makes No. 4 seeds scary, consider Texas Christian
frightening. The Horned Frogs struck out 524 batters, trailing just
Rice and Vanderbilt nationally. Sophomore righthander Jake Arrieta
(13-4, 2.45, 103 strikeouts) set regular season conference records
with a 2.07 ERA and .220 opponents in the hyper-offensive Mountain
West. He’s not the only power arm on the TCU staff, as righthander
Sam Demel (96 strikeouts) and lefthander Brad Furnish (121
strikeouts) also averaged more than a punchout per inning. There’s
not a ton of depth behind this trio, but they’re good enough to give
TCU a strong chance to become the first team seeded fourth to win a
regional if the Frogs can sweep through three games.

College | #2006 #Postseason #Regional

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