CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - A charter flight into Charlottesville Albemarle Airport for an NCAA Regional is a far cry from the transportation Sunny Golloway rode in during his days as a pitcher at Northeastern A&M.
"We don't fly charter very often, but it beats the old bus and even the vans," Golloway said by phone Wednesday night. "That seems like a long time ago."
Golloway, in his 14th season at Oklahoma, including six as head coach, spent the 1980 season at NEO playing for Mike Clark, who was in his first season.
No. 23 Oklahoma faces Appalachian State (39-16) at 7 p.m. in a first-round regional game here Friday. It will be the Sooners' eighth trip in nine years and their 35th overall.
"In my time at NEO, I developed some great friends," Golloway said. "It was the perfect place for me, no doubt. Coach made me make the transition from a middle infielder-slash-pitcher to a full-time pitcher at that time. That was OK because he wanted me to use that arm. I can remember throwing a no-hitter the same day my roommate Roger Hoeltzel did against Neosho (Crowder College).
"We had some good times there."
The Golden Norsemen went 30-29 and reached the third round of the Region 2 Tournament in Golloway's only season here.
He transferred to Oklahoma Christian College, where he received his bachelor's degree in 1984.
"I remember we took that early Texas spring trip," Golloway said. "We went to Paris, Panola, Ranger and Hillsboro. I remember Monty (longtime NEO sports information director Monty Franks) being one of the guys driving the vans. I really wanted to get in Mike's van, but Monty let us crank up the radio, so I stayed with him.
"Every time I talk to my teammates about the NEO days, Monty always ends up coming up in the conversation."
Franks will be one of five individuals and two national championship teams that will be inducted into the NEO Athletic Hall of Fame Saturday afternoon.
"He had a huge impact on all of the players who came through there," Golloway said of Franks.
Golloway has gone up against Clark several times when Clark was at Kansas State and Golloway at Oral Roberts and then at Oklahoma.
"He was a tremendous disciplinarian," Golloway said. "He made us do things the right way. He taught us the game É he taught us to play hard. I think I owe him a lot."
"He is someone I am very proud of," Clark said Wednesday night. "He represents NEO and Miami very well."
"I have some wonderful memories of Miami," Golloway said, noting that former Miamian Steve Owens has been a big supporter during his time in Norman.
"He made a big push for me to get an opportunity here," said Golloway, who had posted a 335-156 record in eight seasons at ORU.
Golloway posted a mark of 335-156 record there. He coached 16 All-Americans, three Freshman All-Americans and 26 of his ORU players were drafted or signed professional contracts.
"You have to go to a mid-major and prove you can direct the ship, then at some point, when you get an opportunity, try to make the most of it," Golloway said. "It all comes back to God's timing. God has been good to us and has blessed our lives. We have been in the right place at the right time. That is because of the grace of God."
Golloway has led the Sooners to five NCAA Regional finals, 261 victories and a top 25 ranking in each of his six years as OU's head coach. The Sooners have hosted three NCAA Regionals during his tenure and they've played in two Super Regionals (2206 and 2010) and returned to the College World Series in 2010 for the first time since 1995, when OU won a national championship.
The 2010 Super Regional was at Charlottesville, something that hasn't been missed by Golloway.
"We're trying to do the same things we did when we came in for the Super Regional in 2010," Golloway said. "We landed on a charter, we had the same bus driver pick us up and we are going to go eat at the same buffet. I know how baseball superstition is, but I am more of a routine guy. I will just leave it at that."
The first game on Friday at 3 p.m. will feature No. 1 seed Virginia (38-17-1) against No. 4 seed Army (41-13).
Play continues through Sunday's 5 p.m. Title game. If needed, a second game to determine the regional winner will be at 5 p.m. Monday.
"It's a really good field," Golloway said. "Army comes in with 44-something wins. They are a team nobody is going to be able to take lightly. Clearly, Appalachian State is going to be very, very good. We understand our hards will be full. We will have to have our A game."
Golloway likes the Sooners' chances because of solid pitching.
"I like our chances for the main reason we have three power arms and now with Steven Okert coming out of the bullpen, we have a big-time power arm out of our bullpen," Golloway said.