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2013 Oklahoma Baseball Preview: Pitchers

Oklahoma enters the 2013 baseball season with possibly the best duo of pitchers that head coach Sunny Galloway has had in his tenure as the Sooners' skipper. Dillon Overton and Jonathan Gray will be heavily relied upon to keep opposing offenses at bay and put the team in position to win.

"I've never had two potential first rounders," Galloway said. "When I came back as associate head coach we had David Purcey, and that was luxury on Friday, but then you really had to turn around and battle. We had Daniel McCutchen, pitching in the big leagues now, as a Friday guy. That was pretty special. I was talking to Zach Neal who was our No. 1 when we went to Omaha in 2010, and I don't remember exactly what round Zach went, but he's special, and he's probably going to pitch in the big leagues someday. He was even raving about how well (Dillon) Overton and Jonathan Gray are throwing the baseball right now."

Lefty Dillon Overton can flat out deal the ball. As a sophomore last season he was named to the Charlottesville All-Regional team after striking out 11 batters in Oklahoma's win over Virginia. He was also named to the Big 12 All-Tournament team. He finished second in the Big 12 in strikeouts last season (126) and finished with a 3.15 ERA off of 122.2 innings of work. In thirteen of his sixteen starts last season he lasted five or more innings and also threw two complete games.

Overton will be the Friday night starter with Jonathan Gray coming in on Saturday. Gray could be the ace on just about every staff in the conference and will attempt to be the knockout portion of Oklahoma's one-two punch of hurlers. He posted a 3.16 ERA and an 8-4 record, striking out 104 batters, in his Big 12 leasing 18 starts in 2012. In his start against South Carolina in the Super Regional he struck out eight batters, allowing no runs off two hits, in just five innings of work.

New to the rotation this season is lefty Billy Waltrip. A JUCO transfer, from Seminole State, Waltrip was an all-conference pitcher last season after recording a 1.60 ERA and striking out 95 batters. He was 7-2 last season and will be a junior at Oklahoma this year.

Stepping into a situation where two guys are returning as aces can be a bit intimidating but Galloway says that Waltrip is handling it fine. He plans to use Overton and Waltrip on Friday and Sunday, with Gray on Saturday, to give Oklahoma a lefty-righty-lefty line up from the mound.

"Waltrip doesn't have to be better than Overton," Galloway said. "He has to be better than TCU and better than Pepperdine, whoever we're playing. He has to be better than their No. 3, and I like our chances with that. I went out one day, probably about a week or two ago, and I said, `Are you nervous?' And he said no. And I said, `You should be. There's a lot of pressure on you. These other two guys have proven it. You still have to prove it.' And he said, `I'm going to be fine, Coach.' So I think he will be."

Other pitchers who will most likely make an appearance on the mound this season are lefties Jake Fisher and Adam Choplick along with right-handers Kindle Ladd and Drew Krittenbrink. Fisher, a senior, made six appearances last year (1.86 ERA) while Coplick sat through a redshirt. He has a massive frame 6-8/261 which only adds to his potential. Ladd made twelve appearances in 2012 and struggled at times. He finished the year with a 5.45 ERA and struck out 27 batters. Krittenbrink made just one start in 2012 in which he tossed 7.2 scoreless innings of work to record a win.