It’s not a surprise at this point, given how long they’ve been doing it, but the level of talent that Oral Roberts puts on the field year after year is still impressive.
The 2017 season promises to be no different, in particular thanks to an offense that returns a boatload of highly-productive hitters.
The group is led by junior catcher Matt Whatley, who burst onto the scene in 2015 and hit .355/.437/.528 with five homers, 44 RBI and 16 stolen bases, earning him consensus Freshman All-American and Summit League Newcomer of the Year honors. He followed that up with a 2016 season where he hit .363/.469/.562 with ten doubles, three triples, eight homers, 41 RBI, a 39/29 walk-to-strikeout ratio, and while he wasn’t as prolific in the stolen base department, he was a perfect 5-for-5 when he did run.
Noah Cummings is another key piece. Like Whatley, he made an impact as a freshman (albeit a redshirt freshman) in 2015 by hitting .331/.389/.472 with five homers and 31 RBI. In 2016, he backed up that performance by hitting .364/.426/.527 with 18 doubles, six home runs, and 44 RBI.
Redshirt senior Nick Rotola is coming off of a 2016 season that saw him hit .319 with a .399 on-base percentage, 16 doubles, and 40 RBI. Finally, big bopper Brent Williams will add some additional pop to the middle of the order. A season ago, he hit .297 with 11 doubles, eight home runs, and 55 RBI.
In short, with an offensive attack like they have returning, expect ORU to be right back where they seem to be each and every year, at the top of the Summit League and in regionals come June.