NORMAN, Okla. – As ACU head coach Britt Bonneau saw things, one of the perks of moving up to the NCAA Division I level was the chance for his team to play against some of the best teams in collegiate baseball.
The Wildcats will get their first chance to do just that Wednesday and Thursday when they take on the Oklahoma Sooners in a two-game midweek series at L. Dale Mitchell Park. ACU (6-2) and Oklahoma (7-4) will play at 6 p.m.
Wednesday and then again at 3 p.m. Thursday before the Wildcats head to Arlington to play in the UT-Arlington / Hilton Invitational this weekend. Both games at OU will be broadcast on 98.1 FM The Ticket.
Oklahoma is one of the great baseball programs in NCAA history with two national championships (1951 and 1994), 10 appearances in the College World Series and 35 appearances in the NCAA tournament on its resume. The Sooners have reached the NCAA tournament in six straight seasons and have won 2,211 games 1906.
The Sooners will be under the direction of first-year head coach Pete Hughes, who came over from Virginia Tech to replace Sunny Golloway, who left to become the new head coach at Auburn.
The games against OU will be a homecoming of sorts for Bonneau, who played for the Sooners in 1992 and helped lead them to the College World Series. Bonneau was voted to the all-Big 8 Tournament team as an outfielder and helped the Sooners win the Mideast Regional title and finish fifth at the CWS in Omaha, Neb.
The Sooners are 7-4 after winning two of three games last weekend in Surprise, Ariz. Oklahoma beat Manhattan (9-0) and Santa Clara (8-4) last Thursday and Friday before falling to Gonzaga (6-4) on Sunday.
Oklahoma's offense is led by junior catcher Mac James, who is hitting a robust .436 with one home run and 10 RBI, while outfielder Taylor Anspaugh is hitting .419. Hunter Haley is hitting .389 with a team-best three home runs and 12 RBI, while Sheldon Neuse is hitting .293 with two home runs and 12 RBI.
The Sooners have already hit eight home runs in 11 games, while their opponents have hit just two against a pitching staff that enters Wednesday's contest with a 2.88 team ERA.
Starting pitcher Corey Copping is 2-0 on the season with a 0.00 ERA in 10 innings of work. Adam Choplick is 2-1 with a 3.31 ERA in three starts, and Jake Elliott is 1-2 with a 2.79 ERA in three starts.
For the Wildcats, senior catcher Seth Spivey leads the Wildcats with a .600 batting average to go along with one home run and seven RBI. Freshman outfielder Brandon Grudzielanek is hitting .467 with seven RBI and freshman first baseman Russell Crippen is hitting .346 with two home runs and eight RBI.
The four freshmen who have started each of the Wildcats' first eight games – Grudzielanek, Crippen, second baseman Gunnar Buhner and shortstop Aaron Draper – are hitting a combined .353 (41 for 116) with 21 runs scored, five doubles, two home runs and 29 RBI.
The pitching staff has been solid with Garrett Demeyre (2-1, 4.24 ERA) and Nate Cole (1-1, 2.00 ERA) leading the way. Starter Austin Lambright has yet to record a decision in three starts, but has a 3.46 ERA to his credit.