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Oklahoma's Mac James Thriving Under New Coach

OU Athletic Communications

All Mac James needed to prove himself was for opportunity to come knocking at his door and that's exactly what happened when Pete Hughes landed in Norman as Oklahoma's new baseball coach. With a clean slate mentality the Sooners were put into a situation where every man was given the opportunity to prove themselves and earn playing time. The result has been two freshmen in the starting lineup and guys like Taylor Alspaugh and Mac James stepping out of the shadows and into the spotlight.

After watching from the bench in Oklahoma's season opener on February 14th, James took the field the next day for his season debut. Passing the test, by fielding exceptionally, Coach Hughes said after the game that he had no choice but to play James.

"Mac James has done everything he can possibly do, in front of our new coaching staff, to deserve the opportunity to play," Hughes said. On Sunday, in his second start of the season, James went 4-for-4 from the plate to score two run and drive in two more, helping the Sooners take down Seton Hall 15-6 and take the series two games to one.

Transferring to Oklahoma, from Brookhaven College, before the 2012 season, James only received nine at bats and two starts for the Sooners last season. He recorded an on base percentage of .364 and fielded .992, with 21 put outs, but wasn't able to crack the lineup more than just a handful of times.

"You look at stats from last year and you don't think you're going to have an opportunity to play the kid and that's the beautiful thing about a new staff," Huges said about James after Sunday's 4-for-4 performance. "Everyone gets evaluated with a fresh set of eyes."

James has certainly passed the eye test and now he's making a name for himself on the field. Starting four games in a row now, at three different positions, James leads the team in batting average at .533 through the first week of play. His slugging percentage is an astronomical .733 and he's almost crossed home plate the same number of times (5) as the runners he's brought in (6). If that wasn't enough, his fielding percentage is at 1.000 as well.

There are no more shadows for Mac James to get lost in. He's currently on every scouting report for Oklahoma's opponents at this weekend's UCF Tournament and will no doubt play a vital role in the team's success on the field. Its all about the limelight for James now and despite his dominating performance on the field he has a humble demeanor off.

"I think we're in a good spot," James said after Sunday's series clinching win over Seton Hall. "We came out kind of night and now we've realized our identity."

That identity is a team that hits both for power and for placement. The Sooners lead the Big XII with a team batting average of .335 and also have conference bests in hits (63) as well as RBIs (47).