Bison Baseballers Hope to Strong Arm Opposition
Armed with a strong pitching staff and quick position players, Oklahoma Baptist University hopes to improve on last year's 36-25 squad that reached the Region VI Tournament.
Chris Ryan joins returning starting pitchers Tabor Woolard, Sean Dryden and Brent Terrell in the main rotation with David Stokes, Wes Moreland and Brent Roberts ready to spot start or assume a starting role if injury or ineffectiveness hits the front line.
Ryan, a junior lefty, is expected to lead the staff. Woolard (4-7, 5.33 ERA) and Dryden (4-7, 5.43) will be the second and third pitchers with Terrell (5-4, 5.16) in the fourth slot.
"You've got a solid four, if Terrell's your fourth pitcher," said OBU assistant Chris Klimas. "When we got to the playoffs last season, Brent was probably the best pitcher we had."
Dryden started the season strong last year but his numbers tapered off as the season began to end. He and Woolard will need to be strong throughout the 2005 campaign.
Moreland, Stokes and Roberts will fill long relief and spot starting roles.
Chad Rhoades returns in his closer role after a posting a 7-3 record with a 3.99 ERA and six saves last year. J. Vinson will be a left-handed option for short relief and OBU also had Jason Stark available.
Handling the staff will be catchers Adam Dalby and Eric Curry. Dalby was drafted out of high school, but went to Texarkana Junior College. Curry is about his equal, leaving the OBU coaching staff with a tough decision.
"Both of them are excellent defensive catchers," Klimas said. "We don't know yet who the starter is. It will be the guy who steps up."
Rett Terrell (.301) returns at first base and will split time there with converted catcher Isaac Romero (.279) with one likely to see DH duty while the other is on the bag.
Frank 'the tank' Ibarra will be at second base.
"Frank is a hard-nosed, dirty player," Klimas said. "He won the Bison Wars (weight training competition)."
Chris Cox will keep the heat on Ibarra at second.
Aaron Dickson will be at shortstop, taking over for Tony Ramos, who left the team in January. Dickson is a scrapper, giving the Bison a tough middle infield.
Nick Bakich returns at third base after sharing the team RBI lead (54) last season. He also hit .342 and had eight home runs.
"We expect a lot out of Nick this year," Klimas said. "He can pick it at third base (.945 fielding) and he can put up huge numbers. He's the heart and soul of the team."
Brad Miller will see time at several infield positions, as well as in the outfield.
Left field will be fought over by Kip Keith and Daniel Hayes.
"Left field is wide open," Klimas said. "It will just have to play itself out."
Danny Guidry has center field pretty much locked up. After starting in center field for 2003 NCAA Division II champion Central Missouri, batting .390.
Felix Peguero transferred from Oklahoma State University and will start in right field. Klimas called Peguero a potential five-tool player at OBU.
Klimas said he expected this team to be better with the addition of the new pitchers, but the biggest improvement should be in the depth of the batting order.
"Last year we had to get a couple of guys on and hope for a home run," said Klimas. "This year is going to be a little different. We can make a few things happen on the bases. Last year, we didn't really have anybody at the 6-7-8-9, so you had to wait a couple of innings to get things going. This year everyone's capable of getting the job done. Our approach will be a little different."