CLAREMORE — “Hector definitely established himself as a quality second baseman last season,” Bradley said. “He was also good offensively, which was a pleasant surprise. He brings in a lot of leadership and experience to our club.”
Sophomore Blake Heston and junior Nick Malter will also vie for time at second base. Heston played in 30 games as a true freshman while Malter redshirted with the Hillcats in 2012.
Coach Bradley will look to Seminole State College transfer Jose Olazagasti to replace two-year starter Randy Ramirez at shortstop. Olazagasti was a two-time Gold Glove award winner and was named to the NJCAA All-Region II team twice. Redshirt freshman Johan Ochoa and senior Hamilton Hernandez could also see time at shortstop.
“Jose brings the experience we need at shortstop,” Bradley said. “He is penciled in as our starting shortstop.”
Newcomer Tyler Wheeler transferred to the Hill after one year at Cumberland University (Tenn.). Prior to his time at Cumberland, Wheeler played two seasons at Connors State (Okla.) under head coach Perry Keith. At Connors he earned a gold glove at third base, he was first team all-conference and named to the All-Region II Tournament Team.
“Replacing our left side of the infield with the graduation of Cade McKewon and Randy Ramirez was a big hole to fill,” Bradley said. “Senior Tyler Wheeler is our penciled in everyday third baseman. He hits from the left side and I look for him to step in and contribute offensively while doing an adequate job defensively.”
Sophomore Jean-Francois Dumais-Fyfe could also see time in the hot corner.
A trio of veterans return to the outfield for the Hillcats. Senior Eric Baker burst onto the scene in 2012, earning a Sooner Athletic Conference Gold Glove and the World Series Gold Glove. The Fort Gibson, Okla. native started in all 65 games last year and locked down the starting job in centerfield after leading the team in several offensive categories in 2012. As the leadoff hitter, he set the single-season record for hits (95), doubles (19), triples (6), at bats (239) and total bases (138) last season.