TSB Community Contributor
The Oklahoma Sooners baseball program again finds itself with an abundance of McKinney talent. The last two seasons have included four McKinney players representing the three MISD high schools: McKinney High, McKinney North, and McKinney Boyd.
And they’ll be a crucial part of this program when the season begins next Friday, Feb. 15, with a four-game home series against Hofstra.
Juniors Kindle Ladd (pitcher), Dylan Neal (catcher) and Jake Smith (catcher/designated hitter) will be joined by freshman Anthony Hermelyn (infielder/utility) this year on the OU roster. Last year saw the graduation of another McKinney North standout in left fielder Eric Ross. Ross garnered All-Big 12 honors during his career as a Sooner. Ladd is part of a very talented OU pitching staff that touts 3 pre‐season All American candidates.
Ladd, a McKinney North 1st Team All District and All‐Area selection, will be counted on heavily in long relief and as a closer. Ladd finished his High School career with 268 strikeouts in 200 innings. The 6-2, 185-pound junior is sixth on the Sooner staff with 12 appearances. Ladd tossed the final two innings in game two at Pepperdine and against the University of Texas‐Arlington. He pitched the final three innings in the series opener with the University of Arkansas‐Pine Bluff, and earned his first career save with four strikeouts and one unearned run off no hits and a walk. Ladd took the loss at No. 22 Oregon State with two innings pitched, and tossed a career high 100 pitches and a career best 5.2 innings pitched in game three vs. the Texas Longhorns. He has six scoreless outings in his last seven appearances. Kindle is the son of Terry and Shelly Ladd.
Neal, a McKinney Boyd 1st Team All-District and Honorable Mention All-Area selection will be on the receiving end of the OU pitching staff as he anchors the catching position for the Sooners. After playing one year at Blinn College, the 6-2, 195-pound junior made his first career start for the Sooners against West Virginia on March 10, 2012 and also started on March 11 at Oregon State. Neal started 21 of the Sooners’ last 46 games behind the plate. He was injured in the final game against Oklahoma State and missed 18 games. He returned against South Carolina in the Super Regionals. Neal drove in a career‐high three runs vs. Air Force. He started all three games against Texas Tech University garnering four hits, three RBI’s, and throwing out 2 would be base stealers; earning him a, “Big 12 Newcomer of the Week,” nomination. Dylan is the son of Rodney and Kelly Neal.
Smith will also see time behind the dish, as well as used as a designated hitter for the Sooners. He made his first career start in both games vs. the University of Arkansas‐Pine Bluff where he had 2 doubles and 2 RBI’s. The 6-2, 235-pound junior got rolling early at OU when as a freshman, in his second collegiate plate appearance; he hit a three-run home run against the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Smith was a 2 year letter winner at McKinney High School and a two-time All District Offensive MVP, hitting .386 with 9 home runs and 36 runs batted in. Jake is the son of Pat and Michelle Smith.
Hermelyn will make an immediate impact for the Sooners in his freshman year. An infielder/utility player, he was a four-year letter winner at McKinney High School, batting .417 with six doubles, one triple, one home run and 12 RBIs his senior season. The 6-1, 200-pound freshman was named team MVP and first team all‐district infield as a senior. He was also honored as team MVP, first team all‐state infield and district offensive player of the year as a junior, first team all‐district infield as a sophomore and second team all‐district infield as a freshman. Anthony is the son of Mark and Paula Hermelyn.
The University of Oklahoma baseball team enters the 2013 campaign ranked No. 14 in the nation, according to Collegiate Baseball Newspaper’s Fabulous 40 Pre‐Season Poll announced last week. The Sooners begin 2013 as the Big 12 Conference’s top‐ranked squad. TCU enters at No. 15 while Texas is ranked at No. 21. Oklahoma will also face No. 1 Arkansas, No. 5 UCLA, No. 33 New Mexico, No. 39 Dallas Baptist and No. 40 Pepperdine in non‐conference action in 2013. The ranking marks the fifth straight season that OU appeared in a preseason poll.
The Sooners are seeking to make another run at the NCAA Men’s College World Series in 2013 under head coach Sunny Golloway’s watch. Oklahoma posted a 42‐25 mark last season and reached its third Super Regional in program history. OU is looking to make its sixth straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament and 36th overall appearance. The Sooners have reached the CWS on 10 previous occasions, winning national championships in 1951 and 1994.