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OU baseball: Jason Ruffcorn hoping for more in final collegiate season


NORMAN — Jason Ruffcorn had an opportunity to live out his dream — to play professional baseball last year after OU’s season ended.

The 6-foot-1 right-handed pitcher from just outside of Austin, Texas, was picked by the Cincinnati Reds in the 18th round of last summer’s Major League Baseball Draft.

“It was a big decision,” Ruffcorn said. “You get a chance to go get drafted and go play the dream. But there was something here, a little bit of unfinished business.

“This culture, this family, is something that you can’t replace. So the decision to come back ended up being pretty easy because I love this team and I love the coaching staff.”

Ruffcorn and the Sooners open their season against Virginia at 6 p.m. Friday in Pensacola, Florida.

There’s more certainty this season for Ruffcorn after he transferred from Texas A&M following the 2018 season.

It took until the day of last year’s opener before he received word from the NCAA that he’d be immediately eligible.

Ruffcorn’s relationship with Sooners coach Skip Johnson was also a major factor in him staying.

Ruffcorn got to know Johnson back when Johnson was Texas’ pitching coach under legendary Longhorns coach Augie Garrido.

After two solid seasons in Texas A&M’s bullpen, Ruffcorn blossomed last season under Johnson’s tutelage, leading the Big 12 with 11 saves and posting a 2.43 ERA with 28 strikeouts in 37 innings.

Ruffcorn’s 11 saves last season already puts him No. 8 on the Sooners’ career list. With another solid season, he could move into third place and enters this year 17 behind No. 2 Jeff Bajenaru — an unlikely but not unattainable mark to reach.

This season, as much as anything on the field, Ruffcorn has turned his attention onto being a leader for the Sooners.

While he integrated quickly onto the team after his arrival before last season, Ruffcorn wasn’t one of the primary voices on the pitching staff. That changes this season.

“My freshman and sophomore years at Texas A&M … I had to wait my turn and had to get my work in Tuesdays and Wednesdays,” Ruffcorn said of the conversations he’s having with young pitchers on OU’s staff. “Just more saying this staff is something special, so just take the best opportunity you have to learn from everyone. Ask questions of the older guys, ask questions of Skip, just take your time and learn and watch the game. That’s the biggest thing I’ve learned.”

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 ›