The Daily Oklahoman from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on April 16, 2001 · 23
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The Daily Oklahoman from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma · 23

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Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
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Monday, April 16, 2001
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23
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THE DAILY OKLAHOMAN BASEBALL MONDAY, APRIL 16, 2001 How sweep it is as OSU rips Cleveland State STILLWATER -Non-conference college baseball games don't carry much weight, so there wasn't a lot of celebrating at Reynolds Stadium Sunday as Oklahoma State completed a two-game sweep of Cleveland State 11-4. Sophomore Mike MiUer picked up his first pitching win of the season for OSU ' with his best performance of the year as the Cowboys ran their record to 29-11 before 1,254 fans. EXECUTIVE Oeis SPORTS in non' cnrmD conference tullUK home games with two-game series remaining against Gon-zaga Tuesday and Wednesday and Brigham Young May 1-2. There was a lot of talk about OSU's non-conference schedule a year ago when it failed to qualify for the 64-team NCAA baseball tournament. When the NCAA field was set, it was clear non-conference games didn't matter. Five Big 12 teams made the tournament and since OSU finished sixth, it stayed home. Bob Colon "I don't know what matters," OSU coach Tom Holliday said after Sunday's victory. "It's political. You need some good non-conference wins early and then do well in the conference. I've seen these pseudo RPI Ratings and they are a bunch of garbage." OSU's biggest early season non-conference was 9-3 over nationally ranked Miami on Feb. H- The Cowboys are 10-8 and fifth in the Big 12 with series remaining against Texas A&M, Baylor, Nebraska and Oklahoma. That looks like a tough finish. "It may seem tougher than it really is," Holliday said. "We've got Baylor at home and are the home team in the OU series. A&M just got swept by Texas Tech and you should be able to get up for Nebraska, which is having its best season." Cleveland State, 11-19, had a rough weekend here. It lost 12-4 to OSU Friday night and was whacked 11-2 by Dallas Baptist here Saturday. On Sunday the Ohio club gave up seven unearned runs, committing four errors and walking 11. OSU scored seven in the sixth after two outs. The visitors lost a fly ball in the sun in center and two in- fielders failed to catch windblown pop-ups. "Other than Western Illinois, this is the weakest team we've played," Holliday said. "We can't worry about that. We just have to get ourselves stabilized and gear up the stretch drive." Miller, a sophomore from Tulsa Union, faced just 16 batters and allowed only one hit in five innings and lowered his ERA to 3.79. He relieved freshman Jimmy Rhodes, who needed 60 pitches go get through two innings. "I had control of my fastball on both sides of the plate and was able to mix in the changeup," Miller said. "I just want to do what is best for the team. I feel more comfortable starting, knowing when I am going to pitch." It was Miller's first appearance since April 7. He pitched twice against Iowa State two weeks ago, went two innings vs. Santa Clara April 4 and was roughed up by Kansas State last Saturday. "Miller and Shane Hawk have done a good job stabilizing games for us," Holliday said. "We were sloppy in the first inning today and Miller came in and threw the ball in the strike zone. He was real sharp." Miller was a starter at the end Jon Pupil 10 0 0 Lehman ss 4 0 t 0 Lillasn 2t 4 0 0 0 Hoover 3 0 0 0 State 11 State 4 OkUhomi Stale b ( h bl Watson 36 3 1 1 0 CatespMb 2 0 0 0 Brown?!) 4 2 2 1 Powell ss 4 3 2 1 Yorkltrl 3 111 Virgilon 110 1 Scott rf 4 10 0 Modamllb 0 0 0 0 Stanlieldpr 0 0 0 0 Krat13b 0 0 0 0 Cauelblb 3 0 0 0 Bolligph-lt 1112 McAullitcf 4 110 Rhodesd 10 10 Oakesc 2 0 0 0 Bourisprrc 10 0 0 Totals 33 11 9 6 ,.200 107 10 11 Md(2).SH-Oakes(; of last season, but will continue in his middle relief role. "If we get in the tournaments, he would likely be a fourth-game starter for us," Holliday said. Coach: Legend is content at Seminole From Page 1-C tors. As a Seminole pitcher worked the count to 1-2 with every different kind of pitch he throws, Simmons turned to his left and saw a quiet group of players. "You may want to wake up on this one." A fastball was called, and the left-handed Redlands batter didn't catch up with it, but caught it flush as it neared the back of home plate. The result was a screaming liner past the third-base line into the Seminole dugout. The Trojans scattered, and one of them caught it. Simmons only smiled. Unfinished business Simmons has made a record 13 appearances at the National Junior College Athletic Association World Series in Grand Junction, Colo. The Trojans have finished second four times, third twice, and fourth once. They were third last year. "Finishing No. 1 at the College World Series would complete his life," says Carolyn Simmons, who's been his wife since June 7, 1963. "Everyone expects him to win it one of these years, and when he loses, it's like a death," she says. "It hurts. You listen to people talk about it. For a month after the series, each time the phone rings you hear the replays of it over and over." There will likely be more chances. Maybe this year. Seminole is 28-7 and ranked fourth in the latest NJCAA Division I poll. Simmons never gets tired of trying. "You are remembered for how you finish, whether it be a game or.a season, even if you're the winningest coach in the United States," Simmons says. Not a hothead There are many things that make Simmons proud. One of the foremost is his personal behavior. That's why a single moment 20 years ago is forever embedded in his memory. It was the only time he was ever ejected from a game. "I think of it every single day," he says. It was a game against Odessa Junior College in a Dallas tournament. "There was a play at second base, and my runner was able to put a hand and a knee on the bag," he recalls. "He was called out. He probably would've been the winning run. "I went out and asked the umpire about the call, and the guy turned his back on me," Simmons says. "I hated that. I said, Tm talking to you' and he said he didn't want to hear another word from me. I asked him to explain, and he tossed me." As Simmons sees it, that umpire wrecked a perfect record. "I take a lot of pride in how I act," he says. "A lot of people you see on TV kick dirt and throw things. That's not me. I don't like to make a fool of myself." On his way back to the dugout, Simmons pointed a finger at the ump and said, "You are the first to ever throw me out of a game. I'm going to kick your butt." A second meeting that day never transpired. "I went over to kick his butt after the game and he was gone," he says. That is usually not his style. "I'm not demonstrative during games," he says. "If I need to get onto the players, I do it in private or in practice. That's when I do my coaching, my butt-chewing." Started from scratch Simmons arrived at Seminole in 1975. After his schooling at Union City and Central State, he was a head basketball coach and assistant baseball coach at Choctaw. He also spent three years at Elgin and a year at Cordell. His brother Wendell, who has been Central Oklahoma's baseball coach for 10 years, recalls the moment Lloyd went to Seminole. "He started a program that was one of the worst in the world," Wendell Simmons says. "He was hungry to make it a winner, and he did. I've never seen anyone work any harder to change things." Baseball wasn't his first choice. "I thought I wanted to be a basketball coach," said Simmons, who was an assistant. "I followed the season with baseball, and I stayed with it. "I'm sure appreciative they took me out of basketball." Simmons has had more than a fair share of outstanding players. Over 130 have signed professional contracts. Five of those are the in the big leagues today: Shane Halter of the Detroit Tigers, Eric Gagne of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Ryan Franklin of the Seattle Mariners, Robert Person of the Philadelphia Phillies, and Kelly Stinnett of the Cincinnati Reds. Franklin also was a successful pitcher for the United States in the Sydney Olympics. "This is the biggest reward in coaching, to see them go on and do well in life," Simmons says. "If anyone is truly in coaching for any other reason, they should get out. It's about the players and their lives. "I watched ESPN Sports-center the other night and saw that Halter was the player of the game for the Tigers," he says. "That's what it's all about." Simmons isn't all about wins, although there obviously is no shortage of those. Seminole players have worn a "15" on a sleeve in remembrance of a player who was a part of the school 20 years ago. "That's for Randy Mattox, a pitcher from Stillwater I had in STAFF PHOTO BY BRYAN TERRY Lloyd Simmons watches the action from the front of the dugout. 1980," he says. "He was the reason we went to our first World Series. "If not for him, I probably would've got out of coaching." Mattox fought leukemia while on the team. "His courage and commitment got us to the World Series. He was a great competitor and he knew he was dying." Mattox died that year. He inspired many, and he'll never be forgotten, Simmons says. "We have a trophy and picture of him over in our gym," he says. "He was a great kid." Other roads available Through the years Simmons has had other coaching opportunities, and only once did he put serious thought into leaving. It was 10 years ago, and Oklahoma was searching for a new coach! Simmons applied; Larry Co-chellgotthejob. "They hired the right guy," Simmons says. "He went to the national tournament early on and won it a few years later. I have no regrets about not getting that job." After learning the baseball coaching ropes from Bill Jensen at Choctaw, Simmons set out to improve his position in baseball. He found it in Seminole, and he's content. "I like working with junior college kids," he says. "They are eager to get to the next level. At four-year schools, . some kids don't care about wins and losses once they become juniors or seniors. I'd have trouble handling that." Other opportunities came from a college in Arkansas, and several came with minor league teams. "Anytime I got those offers I turned them down because it was during my recruiting." He built the program and wants to stay. That dedication rubs off on his players. "He's a good guy to play for," says Seminole sophomore Jeremy Rogers, a sophomore from Morris. "The players are closely monitored. It's not just baseball. It's about work ethic. He urges us to keep our grades up and says that if we don't, we probably won't go anywhere after this." Seven years ago Simmons led a drive to raise funds for the ballfield at Oiler Park and the baseball facility. Four years ago it was completed. "I knocked on doors and talked to people about it all the time,"he says. "I wasn't getting anywhere. Then a 12-man committee was formed, and we made it happen." The Simmons Baseball Facility, which is located at the park, is 9,000 square feet and includes a weight room, locker room, and indoor pitching and batting cages. When it was completed, the committee decided to name it in honor of Simmons. "I'm proud of the road and a facility, and I'm also proud of the town of Seminole that got behind it so much. The support of the people made it possible," ' he says. Simmons doesn't know how many more years he'll coach. "When I finally retire, I hope I have 10 or 12 players in the majors so I can drive around, and watch them." Overachieving UCO turns power into glory CENTRAL Oklahoma coach Wendell Simmons thought he might have a decent baseball team this year. UCO was State colleges loot sor Contenmc North WvUlon Com. Oman Central Oklahoma 18-1 Southwestern 1M 27-18 last year Northeastern State 11-9 Jerry with plenty 0f as QUATTCUUIDU Offensive 'clinch dlvWon OHOTTENHIHK power return- M "!" rTHI ins Oklahoma City 16-2 LKX-V n Oklahoma Baptist 16-12 But he Lubbock Christian 13-5 mfJ ''iHFV ,,,. : Oklahoma Christian 9-11 ' ' SM.lH never imag- WaylandBapM 7-12 i i-mm inedthis. mi l-PTa uco has SIG'e90fy'!! 2-18 rJ Jj won a school- games and 20 w:wtnm fitsiast21- r- r '--jT',W In sweeping STATE COLLEGES three from East Central on Friday and Saturday, the Bronchos clinched the Lone Star Conference North Division title and earned the right to host the conference tournament April 26-28 at Broncho Field. UCO, ranked 13th in NCAA Division II, is 34-8 overall and 18-1 in the conference. The Bronchos have a team hitting average of .380 in conference games and .372 overall. "This reminds me of the 1997 team, which was runner-up in the national tournament," Simmons said. "Hitting is contagious. We hit 25 homers in eight games, 22 in seven Wendell Simmons Ray Danzy, a stout 5-foot-9 outfielder, has led the onslaught of long balls. Danzy, a senior from Cross-ett, Ark., broke the school record in Game. 1 on Friday and the conference record in Game 2. He has 18 homers; as a team, the Bronchos have 48. "I've never seen anyone with his kind of power," Simmons said. "Some of his homers have been amazing. I'll bet some have gone 600 feet. "He hit one well over that flag pole," said Simmons, who pointed well beyond the center-field wall. Danzy hit five homers in a doubleheader two weeks ago. "I had never seen that, and it almost happened twice," Simmons said. "Last week, John Rogers hit four in a double-header and had a chance at a fifth." There is no secret to Danzy's success, Simmons said. "He works hard; when most people go home, he goes to the batting cages. He has more power than anyone I've ever coached. And he's still learning." UCO has at least 10 hits in each of its last 14 games In league play, Danzy is hitting .458, David Jones is at .419, Rogers is up to .415 and Todd Higgins and Dusty McSwane are at .400. Overall, Higgins leads at .429. UCO pitching also is strong. Ricky Belk is 12-0 on the mound, Kirk Gore is 8-0 and Blake Honeycutt is 8-2. Honey-cutt has a 0.85 ERA. The title is Simmons' third. In addition to the 1997 league crown, UCO won it in 1994. "We're just playing with a lot of confidence right now and feel good about the things we're doing," Simmons said. Defending NCAA Division II champion Southeastern, 9-7 in the league and 25-13 overall, comes to town Tuesday for UCO's final regular-season home games. The teams will play a doubleheader beginning at 1:30 p.m. UCO finishes the regular season Friday and Saturday with three at Southwestern (second in the league at 10-6, 23-16 overall). Big series in SAC Sooner Athletic Conference co-leaders Oklahoma City and Oklahoma Baptist will play two Thursday in Shawnee and -two Saturday at OCU. : Oklahoma City, 16-2 in the conference and 44-9 overall, is" ranked second in NAIA poll. -Denney Crabaugh's Stars have ' been stuck in second behind -' Lewis-Clark, Idaho. Oklahoma Baptist, coached ' ; by Bobby Cox, jumped from ' 18th to 12th in the latest poll. ' The Bison are 16-2 in the SAC ' and 35-12 overall. The series will test the top individual stars in the league. OBU's Drew Miller is the SAC's leading hitter at .478, and OCU's Mark Ferrer is sec: ond with .438 and OCU's Mario Delgado is third at .436. Delgado also leads the league in RBIs with 59, homers with 12, and is one of four pitchers in the series with an 8-1 record. Others are Chris Schroeder and Kevin Ruedi of OCU and Jason Wat-. kinsofOBU. OCU signs Spurlock Jay Spurlock, who played basketball for the University of Tulsa during the 1997-98 season, has signed to play for Win Case at Oklahoma City. A 6-10 native of Cleveland, OK, Spurlock will have three years of eligibility. Spurlock averaged 19.6 points, 10.5 rebounds and five blocked shots in high school. OCU was 19-7 last season and reached the second round of the NAIA National Tournament. It's the Stars' second postseason roster change. OCU officials said Oklahoma transfer Alex Spaulding was dismissed after the season due to academic problems. Jerry Shottenkirk can be reached by e-mail at gshottenkirkoklahoman.com igSiSrgl GOLF USA t?ssa?, Complete Inventory Closeouts From Stores Nationwide Savings Up To 65! These Are Just Some Of The 100s Of Items Available. Hurry! 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