Photo by: Nick Conley
After a summer facelift that introduced a new coaching staff and many new players, the Oklahoma Christian University baseball team is set to hit the ground running in 2013.
Coming off the heels of a 2012 season that yielded eight victories, head coach Lonny Cobble and the new-look Eagles seek to take advantage of a clean slate.
“After a rough year this past season, we’re looking forward to a blank record,” Cobble said. “We look to go into this year with a fresh start, put last year behind us and see what we can do in a new conference.”
Cobble, who saw great success as head baseball coach at Edmond Santa Fe High School prior to taking the job at Oklahoma Christian, wasted no time after stepping in as head coach for the Eagles. Cobble loaded the coaching staff with four assistant coaches, all of whom have collegiate or even professional playing experience.
He then proceeded to bring in 16 transfers, five of whom come from Division I backgrounds.
Sophomore Jordan Lopez is one of the transfers with Division I experience. Lopez, who also played for Cobble at Santa Fe, continued on to Texas Tech University and enjoyed 32 starts in two seasons for the Red Raiders.
Lopez touched on the Eagles’ wariness heading into this new season, but stood firm in his opinion on his new team.
“Since this is my first year in this level of competition, I am not exactly sure what to expect,” Lopez said. “What I am sure of, though, is that we have good pitching, a solid defense and I don’t think we will be satisfied with any less than 30 wins this year.”
The Eagles will kick their season off in Schreiner, Texas on Feb. 4 and will continue on the same road trip, squaring off against St. Mary’s University and St. Edward’s University on Feb. 5 and 6, respectively.
St. Mary’s ended the 2012 season ranked number one and continued on to the third round of the Division II College World Series, and St. Edward’s qualified for the Division II tournament. Together they present the Eagles with a challenge from the get-go.
The Eagles will not play their home opener until Feb. 13, when they will host Oklahoma Panhandle State University at Dobson Field.
Senior Evan Draper, a middle infielder making his return to the Eagles from the 2012 season, labeled this season as a telling year for the renovated Eagles.
“It’s been fun seeing how the team has come together,” Draper said. “I’m excited to go out and play different schools and see how this new team stacks up against the Heartland [Conference].”
In a 51-game marathon that will last from Feb. 4 to May 2, the Eagles’ schedule is packed full of tough competition. The Eagles will also reintroduce Division I opponents to their schedule, traveling to the University of Texas — Arlington in early April.
Cobble offered insight into the impact of this season on his career, each of the players’ careers, and Oklahoma Christian as a whole.
“We think we are going to have a good season,” Cobble said. “We have talented players and I look forward to a new challenge in this part in my career, and I know that the guys are looking forward to a new chapter.”