NORMAN — Pete Hughes has already figured out a few things about Oklahoma.
“I've been in Oklahoma for a little over six months, and the weather dominates every conversation, whether it's too hot, too windy or too cold,” the first-year OU baseball coach said.
Hughes has also learned that his team must be built around the variety of conditions.
“From what I hear, early in the season the wind's blowing in and when it gets warm, it blows out,” Hughes said. “You better be flexible in what you're doing offensively. If the wind's blowing in, you better be able to execute the small game and move runners along and bunt and get people in scoring position and hit and run and steal and all that other stuff.”
Despite losing 44 starts from the pitching rotation, including two of the best starters in the country in Jonathan Gray and Dillon Overton, two of their best hitters in Max White and Matt Oberste, and most of their infield, Hughes is looking forward to his inaugural season with the Sooners.
The Sooners open their season at 3 p.m. Friday at L. Dale Mitchell Park against Seton Hall.
Hughes and his staff, which includes former Division I coaches Jamie Pinzino and Mike Anderson, have tried to make the transition from the Sunny Golloway-era as easy as possible. Golloway left after last season to take the head job at Auburn.
“It's been a smooth adjustment,” second baseman Hector Lorenzana said. “I love our new coaches. They're great leaders.”
Lorenzana is the only returner on the infield.
Pinzino, OU's pitching coach, comes to the Sooners after a season as head coach at William & Mary.
He'll have to deal with a whole new rotation. Going into the first weekend, OU will use sophomores Jacob Evans and Adam Choplick and freshman Jake Elliott.
“He's the kind of guy that's not going to feel his way through a situation,” Hughes said of Pinzino. “He's fully entrenched. I'm just so fortunate to have three guys that have been head coaches at the Division I level on our staff, and our volunteer was a full-time Division I assistant.
“It's got to be the best staff in the country, and I couldn't be happier with the accessibility I have to them to pick their brain on a daily basis. But the fact that our kids get to be coached by guys with unbelievable resumes of success, I think it'll show through in June how good our coaching staff is.”
After a nonconference schedule that includes trips to Arizona and Florida as well as a nonconference game against TCU, the Sooners open Big 12 play March 21 .
“I look forward to getting into a league I honestly know nothing about,” Hughes said. “I've admired it from afar. To be able to be entrenched in such traditions as Bedlam and the series with Texas and to coach against one of the best coaches to ever coach this game is exciting to me.”