NORMAN — Oklahoma rolling to an 11-0 victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Wednesday was not a shock. It was another bench-emptying performance by the Sooners, who have now won four straight.
But those who were at L. Dale Mitchell Park on Wednesday were able to see the full gamut of freshman Sheldon Neuse’s talent.
It ranged from a three-run homer in the first inning to eight innings at shortstop to getting the final three outs on the pitcher’s mound. There wasn’t much more OU coach Pete Hughes could’ve put on the freshman’s plate.
“I’ll take whatever’s there,” said Neuse, who lifted his batting average to .316 with Wednesday’s 2 for 3 effort. “Whatever coach throws at me, anyone on this team is gonna do the best they can to do whatever he sets out there for us.”
So much for easing Neuse into college baseball.
The Fort Worth, Texas, native came to OU as the most highly touted recruit to arrive on campus in August. ESPN.com ranked Neuse as the No. 1 prep player in Texas last season and the best player in the Midlands.
Obviously, he’s lived up to the hype. Neuse has been in the No. 3 spot in the Sooners’ batting order every game this season and shuffled between starts at shortstop (his position in high school) and third base (where major league scouts project him to make a living).
But Hughes also sees Neuse’s potential in the bullpen.
“He can handle it,” he said. “I wouldn’t do that if I didn’t believe in the kid and the competitor. He loves to compete. Here’s a kid who is 18 years old and shortstop and hitting in the three hole and late-inning bullpen guy. I would feel good about having him on the mound in a late-inning pressure situation.”