OU Sooner baseball opens 2024 season in College Baseball Showdown

Jaylynn Nash-USA TODAY Sports

The Oklahoma baseball team opens its 2024 season this weekend with three games as part of the Shriners Children's College Baseball Showdown at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.

The Sooners will play Oregon on Friday, No. 8-ranked Tennessee on Saturday and cap off the weekend in a game against former Big 12 rival Nebraska on Sunday.

The Friday game with Oregon will be just the second time the Sooners have faced the Ducks in baseball. OU defeated Oregon 3-2 in Eugene, Oregon, in 2012. The Sooners are 2-1 all-time against Tennessee. Oklahoma defeated the Volunteers in 1951 to win its first national championship and again in 2008. Tennessee won in 2022 in the College Baseball Showdown to open the season.

Sunday's game with Nebraska will be the first meeting between the two former conference foes since the Huskers final season in the Big 12 in 2011. Oklahoma has a 117-94-1 record all-time against Nebraska.

The Sooners are in their seventh season under head coach Skip Johnson. OU was 32-28 overall a year ago and finished 11-13 and in seventh place in the Big 12 standings. In 2022, the Sooners were 45-24 overall and were runners-up to national champion Ole Miss in the College World Series.

Oklahoma returns seven position players with starting experience and 13 letter winners from the 2023 squad along with 26 newcomers. Among the returning position players are second baseman Jackson Nicklaus and outfielders Kendall Pettis, John Spikerman and Preseason All-Big 12 selection Bryce Madron. All had excellent offensive numbers a year ago.

The lone starting pitcher back in 2024 is left-hander James Hitt. OU has added another southpaw starter, Braden Davis from Sam Houston State and Brendan Girton, a righty from Texas Tech. Davis will get the starting call in the opener against Oregon.

The Sooners are 41-21 on opening day in the last 15 seasons and 11-4 over the same time span in season-opening games. This is the fourth time since Johnson has been head coach (since 2018) that Oklahoma has opened the season at a neutral site.