OU baseball team prepares to start season
Senior outfielder Cody Reine stood ready at home plate. His bat wiggled between his hands.
His coach fired the ball toward home plate from an abbreviated distance to the pitcher’s mound. Reine’s eyes followed the ball until it made contact with his bat while his left hand rolled over top his right.
A loud ping echoed throughout L. Dale Mitchell Park as the ball careened toward deep right field. And then it was gone, a homerun.
One pitch later, a Reine line drive cleared the right field fence once more. He made hitting back-to-back dingers during team batting practice look as easy as counting them with your thumb and index finger.
“No, it’s not that easy,” Reine said. “I just had a good day. I’ve been working on my swing a lot. Hopefully, you’ll see a lot more of those throughout the season this year.”
We should all have such good days. Especially good days played in a newly renovated ballpark.
L. Dale Mitchell is in the final stages of its most recent facelift. Construction projects to add more box seats and field turf behind homeplate and in foul territory began Nov. 9.
The additions were added in an effort to allow fans to become more intimate with the play on the diamond, and the new seats raised stadium capacity to nearly 3,000.
Coach Sunny Golloway is thrilled with the renovations, knowing they’ll be finished when the Sooners play their home opener Feb. 24 against Hartford.
“I’ll tell you what, it’s outstanding,” Golloway said. “It’s nice and clean. The new netting and the new seats, it’s just a good feeling.”
Golloway admitted to feeling nervous about the start of the season.
“I think we’re right where we should be,” he said. “You never feel completely prepared, but you’ve got you’re supposed to as far as the fundamentals.”
AT A GLANCE
OU vs. Hartford
WHEN: 3 p.m. Feb. 24
WHERE: L. Dale Mitchell Park
The coaches’ poll ranks Oklahoma at No. 15 with No. 5 Texas receiving the highest ranking among Big 12 teams. The Sooners finished last season 41-19 (14-11) and started the season with a 16-game winning streak, which is the best start in school history.
Reine is one of a handful of seniors on Oklahoma’s baseball team this season. He and senior Caleb Bushyhead will be among those men Golloway will ask to lead the Sooners to the College World Series in mid-June.
“The chemistry of this team is unbelievable,” Reine said. “Even though we have a new incoming class with a lot of freshmen, a lot of junior college transfers, we mesh really well.”
Reine and Bushyhead largely contributed to Oklahoma’s 2010 appearance in the College World Series — its first since 1995. The players said their sights are on traveling back to Omaha this season.
“I mean, 41-19 last year, sure it’s a 40-win season. It’s great,” Bushyhead said. “But the year before that, we had 50 wins and went to Omaha. That’s the ultimate goal. We got three goals in mind year in and year out: to win the Big 12 regular season, to win the Big 12 tournament and to go to Omaha to win in Omaha.”