Stillwater News Press

February 13, 2014

Cowboy baseball opens season in Arlington this weekend

By Derek Brown
Stillwater News Press

STILLWATER, Okla. — Last year Oklahoma State finished the season at 41-19 and made it to the finals of the NCAA Louisville Regional. Second year head coach Josh Holliday aims at building on last season with a slew of returners.

The Cowboys will have six positions starters returning and seven pitchers that combined to win 30 games.

“We hope to be stronger to be at the top of our game when it matters the most,” Holliday said.

During the offseason Oklahoma State picked up 18 new faces. The recruiting class is ranked among the top five in the nation.

“We are very proud of our freshman class and the transfers in it,” Holliday said.

The preseason for the Cowboys was a successful time. The mixture of new and old was a combination that bodes well together.

“They made the new players at home and feel welcome and integrating them into our team so they can contribute to our team right away,” Holliday said. “I think it’s a good sign of them really understanding what it’s all about.”

The Cowboys begin the new campaign at the UTA/Hilton Invitational in Arlington, Texas, at 11 a.m. Friday against Incarnate Word. Oklahoma State feels good about its season this year.

“I think it’s a good schedule for us. I think it’s a great schedule for our fans. I think it’s good that we open up in Arlington in a good three-game tournament to kick this thing off,” Holliday said.

Oklahoma State likes that its schedule has long runs of home games mixed in with short road stretches.

The Cowboys will have their home opener against Alcorn State on Feb. 18.

Oklahoma State will host San Diego, Wichita State, Texas-Pan American, Missouri State, Arkansas-Little Rock, Arizona State along with Big 12 opponents.

OSU does not get into conference play until going to Waco, Texas, to square off with Baylor on March 21.

“Baylor’s got a number of players back. It’s a very good conference schedule,” Holliday said.

Oklahoma State will first travel to Norman for the first Bedlam meeting of the year on April 1. OSU will host Bedlam the second time around on April 15.

“I think it will be fun to see our ballpark in a Bedlam setting, as well as in Norman,” Holliday said.

The Cowboys will cap the regular season off with three meetings between in-state rival Oklahoma, once at the Bricktown Ballpark and twice at ONEOK Field.

“It’s a good schedule. I think we made every attempt to strengthen it and we will continue to do that year after year. We look to play the best teams possible,” Holliday said. “It’s where you learn about yourself and you emerge.”

Tanner Krietemeier, a senior, led the Cowboys last year with a .314 batting average  will return for OSU. Zach Fish, an All-Big 12 First Team outfielder from a season ago, returns after hitting seven homers, 41 RBIs and a team best .451 slugging percentage last year.

Saulyer Saxon, Gage Green and Donnie Walton return after being named to the 2013 Big 12 Conference All-Freshman Team.

Tyler Nurdin and Mark Robinette return to the mound for OSU. The two had 11 wins and 27 starts for the Cowboys last year.

“Tyler is a guy that we believe in very strongly,” Holliday said. “Robinette is another guy I expect to be in there early.”

Oklahoma State’s bullpen is also strong with Vince Wheeland, who was 8-2 with two saves and an 1.97 ERA, and Brendan McCurry, who had eight saves and earned six victories.

The Cowboys are looking to rise after finishing second in the Big 12 last year.

“I feel good because of these guys,” Holliday said. “I’m very comfortable about the direction that we’re heading. We’re by no means where we want to be but we’re getting a little closer everyday.”