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February 27, 2014

Hughes says team needs more game experience

NORMAN — This weekend’s weather forecast is calling for rain, sleet and possibly snow in Norman. That’s what Oklahoma’s baseball team will return to. The Sooners will be more worried about having an ample amount of sunblock as they open play in the College Baseball Classic in Surprise, Ariz.

After eight games, Oklahoma isn’t where it wants to be. The starting pitching has been inconsistent. Errors have been an issue. Scoring just four runs in the final two games of last week’s UCF tournament left a lot to be desired.

The pitching rotation has been juggled for the four-game series. Corey Copping (1-0, 0.00 ERA) gets the start when the Sooners face Manhattan (1-3) at 5 p.m. today. Jacob Evans (1-1, 3.75 ERA) gets the start against Santa Clara (5-4) at 5 p.m. Friday. Left-hander Adam Choplick (1-1, 4.66 ERA) goes against Arizona State (3-4) at 5 p.m. Saturday.

It’s that Sunday start against Gonzaga (2-6) that is up in the air. Jacob Evans (0-1, 7.36 ERA) could get the start, but the sophomore left-hander epitomizes the Sooners’ starting pitching struggles. He’s logged a lot of innings dating back to his freshman season. Starting, however, is different.

“Part of the maturation process for pitchers is being able to pitch in pressure situations with runners on base and figuring out how to get out of it,” OU coach Pete Hughes said. “… There’s a learning curve with all these guys figuring out new and expanded roles.”

Both Evans and Choplick have had problems in those occasions this season. Evans has given up two runs in an inning three times in just 71⁄3 innings pitched. It was a three-run fourth inning that doomed Choplick in last week’s 4-1 loss to Central Florida.

Of course, the pitching staff doesn’t shoulder the blame for the offensive issues.

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