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OU baseball: Cade Cavalli calling his own pitches for Sooners this season

Coach Skip Johnson and the Sooners open their season Feb. 14 against Virginia in Pensacola, Fla. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman]
Coach Skip Johnson and the Sooners open their season Feb. 14 against Virginia in Pensacola, Fla. [Nate Billings/The Oklahoman]

OU baseball coach Skip Johnson talks all the time about the importance of his pitchers having conviction in what they’re doing, that the belief they will be successful having as much to do with the outcome as the pitch that is called.

Johnson’s stepping out on a limb with that a bit this year when he’ll allow junior right-hander Cade Cavalli to call his own pitches.

“I’m going to do something I haven’t done probably in 29 years,” Johnson said. “Cade Cavalli will start on Friday night and I’ll make a suggestion on what pitch to call but he’s going to call the pitches.

“It should make the game flow a little bit better. It should make it easy for those guys to determine what they need to do.”

Cavalli said he appreciated the trust, not only in himself but in catchers Brady Lindsly and Justin Mitchell.

“He’s got full trust in us,” Cavalli said.

Cavalli will be the starting pitcher Feb. 14 when the Sooners open their season against Virginia in Pensacola, Fla.

Johnson said Cavalli would be exclusively a pitcher this season after primarily playing first base as a freshman then making the transition to starting pitcher/designated hitter a year ago.

Cavalli hit .319 with 17 RBIs last season.

Though Johnson said Cavalli wouldn’t regularly get at-bats, he didn’t discount the possibility of selectively using him at the plate.

“There might be a case this year where we need a pinch-hit home run,” Johnson said. “The guy’s got power, go out there and hack away at it.”

Demco expected to help Sooners’ bullpen

For the second consecutive season, the Sooners got good news just before the year on a critical piece in the bullpen.

Last year, it was righty Jason Ruffcorn that got word the day of the season opener that he’d be eligible without sitting out a year after transferring from Texas A&M.

This season, OU didn’t have to wait quite as long as left-hander Brad Demco received clearance this week from the NCAA after transferring from Sam Houston State.

Demco has a fastball that sits in the low 80s, high 90s and a slider that can be effective around 77-80 mph.

“I don’t expect him to go out and be a Sandy Koufax or a Clayton Kershaw or anybody like that,” Johnson said. “I expect him to go out and compete.”

Johnson said Demco has refined his motion since he arrived, working during the fall to make his delivery more repeatable.

Rotation still coming together

While the first two spots in the Sooners’ weekend rotation — Cavalli and Levi Prater — are set, the third spot is still up in the air.

Johnson said that either Dane Acker or Wyatt Olds, both right handers, will have the first opportunities to nail down the spot.

Olds, from McLoud, had a 4.23 ERA out of the bullpen as a freshman last season.

Acker was 10-0 with a 2.36 ERA at San Jacinto College last season, striking out 97 hitters in 76 1/3 innings. He was a 23rd-round pick by the Arizona Diamondbacks last season.

Ryan Aber

Ryan Aber has worked for The Oklahoman since 2006, covering high schools, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, the Oklahoma City Barons and OU football recruiting. An Oklahoma City native, Aber graduated from Northeastern State. Before joining The... Read more ›