By Jason Elmquist
STILLWATER, Okla. —
A rocky weekend in the Big 12 Conference Baseball Championship by Oklahoma State left a question mark surrounding its prospect for the NCAA Division I Baseball Championship.
“I didn’t sleep very well. I just tried to take my mind off it and hang out with some of the guys and tried not to talk baseball for a little bit because I knew that was going to be all that was on my mind today,” OSU senior Robbie Rea said.
But despite ending the year on a four-game losing streak and seeing their RPI dip into the 50s, the Cowboys saw their names scrawled across the television set Monday morning while watching the selection show on ESPNU. Oklahoma State will be the third seed in the Louisville regional, facing the second-seeded Miami Hurricanes at 1 p.m. Friday with all games of the regional being televised through ESPN3 at WatchESPN.com.
“I’m excited for these players because of how hard this group has worked to put themselves in this position,” OSU first-year coach Josh Holliday said. “This is something I’ve wanted to see for these kids because it’s their team, it’s their year and they played really well all year long. I wanted them to have this opportunity to extend our season.
“When you get into a regional, the slate is clear, and everybody is starting fresh. We’ve got a chance to go in there and play good baseball, and that’s all we were asking for is an opportunity. I’m really grateful that we got it.”
Perhaps in a bit of foreshadowing, Rea mentioned he actually drove past Jim Patterson Stadium — the home ballpark for the Louisville Cardinals that opened in 2005.
“I drove by their field this summer. It’s a nice park,” the Topeka, Kan., native said. “Growing up, I’ve always seen Miami (Fla.) in the College World Series and got to see them play. It will be a dream come true to get to play against them and hopefully we can get the ‘W.’”
Fellow OSU alum and current pitching coach Rob Walton was ecstatic to see the Oklahoma State name among the 64 teams chosen for the bracket.
“It’s always a good feeling and it’s definitely the most fun time of the year, getting to go to a regional,” said Walton, who is in his first year on the OSU staff after serving as head coach at Oral Roberts. “I’ve been fortunate enough to go 14 years in a row and this is 15. I wanted to keep that streak going. It’s great for the kids and the university. It’s a special place and this is why I’m back here.”
Getting back is the first step, now the Cowboys must try to do something with it. They obviously head into the postseason on the snide having lost their last four — with the last three being the most gut-wrenching as they gave up leads of at least four runs.
“It’s really important for us to just stay focused. We’ve got to keep everybody focused during the practices during the week and show everybody that we’re still in this thing and there is nothing to hang our heads about,” OSU senior Randy McCurry said following Saturday’s loss to West Virginia.