TULSA, Okla. - The Oral Roberts baseball team will open the 2016 campaign this weekend in Little Rock, Ark. as the team is set for a pair of neutral site games against Indiana State. First pitch is set for noon on both Friday and Saturday. Fans can follow @ORUBaseball on Twitter for live updates throughout the weekend.
LOOKING AT THE SYCAMORES
Indiana State was picked fifth in the Missouri Valley Preseason Coaches' Poll after finishing 28-26 overall and 8-13 in league play in 2015. Indiana State brings back four position players and seven pitchers from a year ago. Much like ORU, the Sycamores have an influx of newcomers to the program with 20 transfers or freshmen on the opening day roster.
|Oral Roberts vs Indiana State | Feb. 19-20 | Little Rock, Ark. | Hogan Field|
|Series Schedule||Coverage||Projected Starters|
|Friday, Feb. 19 - Noon||Live Stats | Twitter
||ORU - RHP Bryce Howe
ISU - LHP Ryan Keaffaber
|Saturday, Feb. 20 - Noon||Live Stats | Twitter
||ORU - RHP Nick Wood
ISU - LHP Greg Kuhlman
|Social: Twitter | Instagram // Game Notes: ORU | ISU
Indiana State's Andy Young was voted preseason All-MVC at the utility spot after earning All-MVC Honorable Mention honors in 2015. Young finished 2015 batting .296 with 60 hits, including 14 doubles, three triples and seven home runs. On the mound for the Sycamores, Ryan Keaffaber returns for the 2016 season. The lefty went for 82 and a third innings last season for a 2.73 ERA and a 1-5 record.
ORU and Indiana State have met a total of 15 times in the past, with the last time coming during the 1999 season. The Golden Eagles took two of three from the Sycamores, tallying 30 runs in the three-game series. ORU leads the all-time series, 10-5.
FRIDAY'S PROBABLE STARTER
Coming off a 4-2 season on the mound during his freshman campaign, Bryce Howe will open the season at the Golden Eagles Saturday starter against ISU. The Claremore, Oklahoma native made 14 appearances a year ago, including 12 starts. In 55 innings of work, Howe struck out 46 batters and held opponents to a .256 average. The right-hander allowed only 24 earned runs on the season for a 3.93 ERA.
SATURDAY'S PROBABLE STARTER
Redshirt senior Nick Wood will take the mound for ORU on Saturday. A Los Alamitos, California native, Wood saw limited action in 2015 after being sidelined after an injury early in the season. In his limited role, Wood tossed three and a two-third innings, allowing only one hit while facing 15 batters.
MANNING THE BACKSTOP
Sophomore catcher Matt Whatley headlined the national stage for ORU last season. Whatley became the 14th Golden Eagle to earn Freshman All-America honors and the first to do so since 2012 when Jose Trevino earned the honor. He was tabbed a Freshman All-American by four publications including Perfect Game USA, Collegiate Baseball, D1Baseball.com and Baseball America. Whatley led ORU in hitting with a .355 average earning Summit League Newcomer of the Year honors and First Team All-Summit League accolades at catcher. His 44 RBI were second most among the Golden Eagles and finished the season with a .528 slugging percentage and .437 on base percentage. He also led ORU with 56 runs scored which also ranked in the top-50 nationally adding, three triples and 16 stolen bases.
ORU was one of the best road teams in the nation last season, going 18-6 away from J.L Johnson Stadium. The 18 road wins tied for the second-best mark in college baseball. Dallas Baptist and Nevada led the country with 19 road victories apiece.
COACH EYES 100
Oral Roberts Head Coach Ryan Folmar needs just four wins to eclipse the 100-win plateau entering 2016. At a 96-74 career record over three years with the Navy and Gold, he would become the sixth coach in program history to reach the 100-win mark.
For the latest information on ORU baseball, follow @ORUBaseball on Twitter or go to www.ORUAthletics.com. Fans can also receive updates on the team by downloading the Golden Eagles Front Row App at ORUAthletics.com/frontrow or in the App Store.