Oklahoma has made impressive strides in the NCAA Tournament Baseball, and now the Sooners are in Omaha for the 2022 College World Series. Before getting down to business, head coach Skip Johnson and players Tanner Treadaway and Peyton Graham spoke to the media about everything.
In the regional round of the NCAA Tournament, the Sooners traveled to Gainesville and eliminated 13th seed Florida to advance to the Super Regional against Virginia Tech. The Sooners then traveled to Blacksburg and defeated the Hokies in a thrilling three-game streak to make it to Omaha.
After the Sooners arrived in Omaha, Johnson, Treadaway and Graham took the podium to discuss a number of different topics ahead of their game against Texas A&M on Friday, June 17th. breaking the ball, improving the pitching line-up and much more.
Continue reading below to see what Oklahoma had to say about their trip to the College World Series.
SKIP JOHNSON: “Welcome, and this is a beautiful day that the Lord has made, and we will rejoice in it. Beautiful outside. Gotta practice. The most important thing is to see what the stadium looks like. Looks really good. It’s very similar to the major league stadiums we’ve played in before. Looking for an opportunity to come to Omaha and do what we do and enjoy it. I am truly proud of our children. We’re just a team full of Davids. That’s basically all I can say.”
On the stereotypical smallball attack:
PEYTON GRAHAM: Personally, I don’t mind. Just creating chaos, that’s what we do. We’ve taken it pretty well and we’re going to keep working on it.”
TANNER TREDWAY: “I think it’s just part of our identity. It’s part of who we are as a team. I think this is a key part of our success throughout the year. If we hadn’t been bought, I’m not sure we’d still be in the lineup.”
When playing a season with one inning and one half at a time:
TREDWAY: “I think personally, and I think I can speak for the whole team, whether it really really keeps us in the moment. In big situations, when Peyton (Graham) wins a Grand Slam, I think he really calms down and is just ready for that moment. I think it just seeped through the whole team and it was very good for us. And we’ve played in many hostile environments, and this one will be the same. And I think that’s why we thrived in those situations.”
GRAHAM: Well said.
JOHNSON: Serve at a time is really what the game is like. You can only control your thoughts, your only thought on one field. You don’t want to look to the future; you don’t want to look into the past. This is easier said than done. We can sit here and talk about how to get a team to play one field at a time, one half at a time. For example, Peyton is 1-2 at the Regional, we’re down 3-1, and he leveled one pitch and hit the bullpen. It’s really just one step. This game is quite difficult to play. This is an imperfect game.
“And I was blessed to learn that, I think, going to the University of Texas from Navarro Junior College, and really thought I was doing. I didn’t really know what I was doing as a baseball coach. And being around Coach (Augie) Garrido and Coach (Tommy) Harmon and listening to what they are talking about step by step, I learned a lot about how to teach kids in that environment. It’s really just one step. And control yourself. This is 100 percent of what you need to get to the next step. On a hill, if you are trying to move to the next pitch, you suddenly look up and see that you are on 100 pitches. This is really what it’s all about.
“You try to teach baseball as much as you can as a head coach and that’s really what a coach does, he’s trying to teach these guys how to play a game that’s really hard to play because these guys deal with bad luck a lot. And you’re trying to gain confidence by doing it with one step, because one step can help a guy for life. It could hurt a guy’s life if he takes it that way. So it’s how you respond to adversity that you’re facing. And it’s really just one pitch.”
On accepting the role of David fighting Goliath:
TREDWAY: “I think that really keeps us all on the same level and makes us the same. It makes us feel like no one person contributes more than another. I think it’s good for team morale and our success.”
GRAHAM: “I think it helps us play with a chip on our shoulder, something to prove to people they’re wrong, that we came here in eighth place. The first ones, I think, just rally the guys, light them up a bit.
On what it’s like to be in Omaha at the World Series:
GRAHAM: “It’s great to be where your feet are. This is amazing. I was here, I don’t know, 10, 11 years ago I watched matches. Now I’m here to play it. It’s pretty neat. Couldn’t be more excited.”
TREDWAY: Yes, it’s definitely a dream come true. I just watched it on TV as a kid. I have never been here before. So the whole experience was incredible. And I am very happy to play in front of 25,000 people. I think I’m looking forward to this and this adrenaline rush and I’m just excited.”
About the speed of the Oklahoma team:
TREDWAY: “I think our aggression is the most important key for our team. And I tell the young guys too, I said the best thing about aggression we have is that it really takes the fear out of the game.
“The guys are too worried about stealing the base or putting the head down, that it really takes away all the fear you have in the game. And I think that’s why – when we play in these hostile environments, we can do it one step at a time, because we’re so focused on doing what we’re trying to do. And I think it took a lot of stress off not only us, but the younger guys as well.”
GRAHAM: “I think it has a lot to do with what he said, as well as being smart on the basic paths. Some calculations you do, some calculations you don’t. I think it just gives us a big advantage to steal that base.”
On how to balance having fun at work:
TREDWAY: That’s a rather difficult question. I dont know. We’re just trying to stay in the moment. I think we are enjoying it. We accept it. This is a unique opportunity. I think we all understand this. But most of all, we’re here to make a statement. We were here to make a statement at the Regional. We were here to make a statement at Super. And now we’re here in Omaha to make a statement. I think everyone knows what our main goal is, but be sure to enjoy and embrace it all.”
GRAHAM: “Like he said, our main goal is to win everything. But I think everyone takes it into account. They don’t take any moment for granted. It’s pretty cool.”
On how the pitching improved in the postseason:
TREADWAY: “Skip (Johnson) is really good at teaching pitchers the same stuff, pitching at a time. But Skip says that too, but I believe that too, that our offense is really complemented by our serve. I think when we play offensively, we really give them confidence. As Skip says, serving with a lead is much better than without one. They just gain confidence from it. We have a lot of balanced guys, guys who don’t fall too low or too high. Not too emotional, which I think is good. I think it’s good. Keeps you locked up and stay in the moment.”
GRAHAM: “Our opening pitch has been overwhelming for most of the year. Corral, we’ve got guys who can get the job done. So we never really stand out on the field and don’t worry if this guy will pull him out or give up. We have a lot of confidence in these guys, especially Trevin Michael, he’s been phenomenal this year.”
On Jim Schlossnagle’s work at Texas A&M:
Johnson: Offensively they are really good. They’re going to grind up bats. This is what his teams have done at TCU. He did a great job. The world we live in today, with the portal and everything that’s going on in college baseball, he’s done a really great job of getting a bunch of guys together, hiring a great coaching staff. The resources he was given really helped him. Not that he…