Tulsa Professional Sports Offer Action, Entertainment
By GLENN HIBDON
GTR Sports Writer
HARRY LENTZ for GTR Newspapers
Tulsa Oilers Coach Bruce Ramsay will return for his third season in 2011-12. The Central Hockey League franchise signed Ramsay after he led the Oilers to postseason play for the first time in six seasons, their first winning record since 2006 and their first playoff series victory since 1994.
Ramsay has a 63-54-13 record in Tulsa and recruited two of the CHL’s most talented scorers: Rob Hisey and Chad Costello. Hisey was leading the league in scoring when called up by the American Hockey League in 2009-10 and Costello also topped the charts last season before a call up.
Ramsay says he hopes to return much of his team that defeated Mississippi 3-2 in the opening round of the playoffs in April. Team captain Tyler Fleck says he will retire, but veterans Michel Beausoleil and Marty Standish hope to return. Former Oiler David Alexandre Beauregard also wants to rejoin the team.
While the Oilers finished fast, the Tulsa Drillers are off to a quick start in Texas League baseball under new manager Duane Espy, holding first place in the Northern Division as of May 15. The Drillers are two games ahead of Northwest Arkansas thanks to impressive pitching.
Juan Nicascio (5-1) leads the league with 51 strikeouts and is second in earned run average at 1.90. Reliever Stephen Dodson possesses a 6-0 record and a 1.64 . Center fielder Tim Wheeler’s 11 home runs are tied for the league lead and his .331 batting average is sixth. Left fielder Scott Beerer is hitting .330, ranking seventh in the TL.
Espy is making his third appearance in the TL after playing for Shreveport in 1974 and managing the Captains for three seasons starting in 1983. He last managed Las Vegas of the Pacific Coast League in 2000.
Just like the Drillers, the Tulsa Talons of the Arena Football League are picking up steam. After losing their first three games of the season, the Talons have rebounded to win four of six and stand third in the National Conference’s Central Division.
After most of the 2010 roster departed, the Talons are facing a rebuilding season under coach Mitch Allner. “We don’t have a lot of experience and that’s the downfall for our team,’’ Allner said before the season began. “But the guys are hungry and they work extremely hard.’’
Troy McBroom had four straight 100-yard receiving games prior to Tulsa beating New Orleans last week and the team stands 4-2 since switching to classic pocket passing quarterback Matt Bassuener. The Talons lead the in rushing yards per game and Bassuener is second individually with 32.4 per game.
Just as the Talons are regrouping, the Tulsa Shock of the Women’s National Basketball Association hope to do the same. The team’s second season in Tulsa will begin on June 4 at San Antonio with Nolan Richardson again coaching.
The Shock closed with a league worst 6-28 record in 2010, but are expecting big things from the signing of legend Sheryl Swoopes. Swoopes is a four-time champion in the league and three-time most valuable player. After a three-year absence from the league, she was in camp on opening day.
Also signed is former Olympic participant Marion Jones and Ivory Latta, who led the Shock in scoring last year with 12.4 points per game.