TULSA, Okla. - Oral Roberts baseball will make the trek to Springfield, Mo. Wednesday as the Golden Eagles take on No. 12 Missouri State. First pitch is slated for 3:05 at Hammons Field.
LOOKING AT MISSOURI STATE
Missouri State comes into Wednesday with a 5-1 mark this year. After opening the season with a series sweep at Central Arkansas, the Bears picked up two-of-three at the Austin Peay Governors Challenge. MSU is coming off a 49-12 season where the Bears advanced to the Fayetteville Super Regional after being chosen as a host for an NCAA Regional. Preseason All-American Jake Burger leads the way for MSU with a .500 average. The sophomore has four homeruns and 13 RBI in six starts on the infield. The Bears were the MVC preseason favorite and two players were named Preseason All-Americans: Jake Burger and right-handed pitcher Bryan Young, while senior outfielder Spencer Johnson was a Preseason All-MVC pick.
Oral Roberts holds a 30-20 advantage in the all-time series with Missouri State. The Golden Eagles have one four of the last five meetings, and two straight. The last time the two teams met was in 2014 when ORU took the home-and-home series with the Bears, winning in Tulsa, 4-1 and in Springfield, 5-1.
LOOKING AT THE LAST WEEK
ORU is coming off an impressive week, going 3-1 over the last seven days with a win over Wichita State at J.L. Johnson Stadium in the teams' home opener and a series win at No. 26 Dallas Baptist. Sophomore infielder Nick Roark led the way offensively on his way to a Summit League Player of the Week award. The lefty batted .500 in the four games with 10 hits, including a pair of double and a home run. The Broken Arrow, Okla. native collected 15 total bases and seven RBI. Another Golden Eagles flying under the radar last week was senior Rolando Martinez. The utility man went for a .538 batting average and a .846 slugging percentage, including a two-run home run against Wichita State.
SWEEPING THE SUMMIT
Both Nick Roark and Brady Womacks swept this week's Summit League Player of the Week honors after leading ORU to a 3-1 week and wins over Wichita State and Dallas Baptist. It was the first time either had won conference honors. Roark finished the week with a .500 average on 10 hits which included two doubles and a three run homer. He led ORU with seven RBI and 15 total bases on the week. Right-hander Brady Womacks earned the honor after picking up a pair of saves in three appearances out of the bullpen. Womacks entered in the ninth inning with the bases loaded Tuesday night against WSU. The Pevely, Mo. native got out of the jam and picked up his first career save in ORU's first win of the season. He also picked up a three-inning save in the series finale at Dallas Baptist. In the outing he did not allow a hit.
ON THE BUMP
Freshman Josh McMinn will get his first start of his career Wednesday at Missouri State. So far this season the right-hander has made three relief appearances, going three and a third innings, striking out three.
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.
MAKE EM' COUNT
Sophomore Nick Roark came into the 2016 season with high aspiration's after a batting at a clip of .287 during his freshman campaign. He has not disappointed this season as he leads the Golden Eagles in several offensive categories including batting average (.414), runs (7), hits (12), RBI (9) and home runs (3). In ORU's second at bat of the season, the lefty hammered a ball out of the park for his first home run of his career. In six games this year, Roark has put together a .793 slugging percentage and a .433 on-base percent in 29 at bats.
THEY HAVE THE SPEED
A little different than teams in the past, this year's squad has showed its speed on the base paths. In 2015, the Golden Eagles stole just 52 bases on the season. This year, the Golden Eagles have eight steals in six games. Junior outfielder Michael Hungate leads ORU with four swipes in as many attempts while the speedy shortstop Trevin Sonnier has a pair.
COACH EYES 100
Oral Roberts Head Coach Ryan Folmar needs just four wins to eclipse the 100-win plateau entering 2016. At a 99-76 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.
THROWING THE ARSENAL
The Golden Eagles used its whole arsenal against Wichita State in a 6-4 win at J.L. Johnson Stadium (2/24). In total, ORU put 10 different pitchers on the mound. The last time the team used 10 or more pitchers in a game came at Wichita State in the 2013 season in a 10-inning affair.
If you haven't paid much attention this year, you may be a little lost when you look on the field. That is because there are 20 new faces to the program this season, including eight freshmen. It marks the largest turnover in the program since Ryan Folmar took the reins during the 2013 season. The Golden Eagles lost 12 seniors off of last year's Summit League Champion team, as well as five draftees in 2015.
2015 MLB DRAFT
Five Golden Eagles were selected in the MLB First Year Player Draft last spring. Anthony Sequeira was drafted in the 23rd round (Pick: 684) by the Phillies; Audie Afenir was taken by the Yankees in the 25th round (Pick: 753); Xavier Altamirano went in the 27th round (Pick: 818) to the Athletics; Guillermo Trujillo went to the Orioles in the 35th round (Pick: 1063) while senior Jacob McDavid was selected with the final pick of the draft (Pick: 1215) by the Angels. This 2015 class was the largest since 2009 when six Golden Eagles were taken.
Oral Roberts has been tabbed to repeat as Summit League baseball champions in a poll of the league's head coaches. The Golden Eagles are looking to extend on their record 15 regular season titles and 16 tournament championships in 2016. ORU received all five of its possible first-place votes. Fort Wayne, last season's tournament runner-up, was picked second, its highest preseason ranking in program history. South Dakota State was slotted third with the final first-place tally, followed by Omaha, North Dakota State and Western Illinois. The Golden Eagles finished the 2015 season with a 41-16 overall mark and 25-5 in The Summit League, advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the 25th time in program history.
PLAYING TO THE COMPETITION
In six games, five against nationally-ranked teams in 2015, ORU posted a 5-1 records, beating Oklahoma, No. 12 Texas Tech and No. 10 Oklahoma State on the road. ORU also took down the Cowboys and Red Raiders at J.L. Johnson Stadium.
Oral Roberts returned to NCAA regional competition for the first time since 2013 with a trip to the NCAA Stillwater Regional hosted by Oklahoma State in 2015. The Golden Eagles competed in a regional for the 25th time in program history.
TWO-STRAIGHT, 30-WIN SEASONS
The 2015 squad topped the 30-win plateau for the second straight year. The two-straight 30-win seasons were accompanied for the first time in as many years with a berth to the NCAA Tournament.
EVERYBODY LOVES THE LONG BALL
With home run totals down the past few seasons due to the BBCOR bats, the Division I Baseball Committee voted unanimously to switch from the raised-seam baseball used in the past to a flat-seamed ball as used in Major League Baseball in 2015. The switch was widely expected after an NCAA study revealed that the flat-seamed ball travels an average of 20 feet further than the raised-seam ball when in the air. The height of the seams does not affect the exit velocity of the ball off the bat; rather, the "drag effect" of the raised seams takes effect the longer a ball travels through the air.
ORU will play its first home series of the season when the team welcomes Little Rock to J.L. Johnson Stadium over the weekend. The teams will play four games, including a double-header on Saturday.
BACK AND BETTER
ORU baseball fans will have new ways to watch this spring as the department utilizes new technology during home games. A total of 23 games, including a portion of The Summit League Baseball Championship are scheduled to be streamed free of charge with audio overlay from the Voice of the Golden Eagles, Geoff Haxton.
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.