Three OU baseball players have been named Louisville Slugger Freshman All-Americans by Collegiate Baseball News. Right-handed pitcher Jake Irvin, catcher Domenic DeRenzo and outfielder Steele Walker make up the Sooners’ first trio of Freshman All-Americans since 2013.
Irvin opened the season in the rotation before a move to the bullpen for the month of March. He emerged to get a midweek start and got a win over Dallas Baptist before punching out a season-high 10 against Oklahoma State, which earned him a spot in the weekend rotation. Irvin moved from the Sunday role to become OU’s Friday starter by the end of the season. He went 6-2 on the season, marking the most win by a Sooner freshman since Jacob Evans in 2013, with a 4.47 earned run average. Irvin’s 51 strikeouts were the fifth most on record by an OU freshman. In Big 12 play, he was a perfect 3-0 with a 3.00 ERA.
DeRenzo firmed up the starting catcher role for the Sooners until a late season injury kept him out of the lineup for the final eight games. Overall, he hit .243 with an OU freshman record .592 slugging percentage as he smashed eight home runs, six doubles and three triples. DeRenzo caught fire at the plate in late April as he homered six times in a six game stretch and hit .400 (8-for-20) with 14 RBI over that stretch. Behind the dish, he threw out a team-high 13 base stealers.
Walker was an everyday, middle-of-the-lineup player from day one for the Sooners. He shook off a slow start with a 10-game hitting streak that saw his batting average rise 68 points and stayed hot at the plate through Big 12 play as he was named to the All-Big 12 Freshman Team with a .290 batting average, including a .295 mark against league opponents. Walker’s 17 doubles were good enough to tie Sheldon Neuse for the second most on record by an OU freshman. He totaled 35 runs, 32 RBI and three home runs for the season.
Evans, Craig Aikin and Anthony Hermelyn were the last trio of Sooners to earn Freshman All-America in the same season. Neuse was the last OU player to achieve the mark in 2014. A total of 16 Sooners have been named a Freshman All-American since the award was introduced in 1997.