By Jason Elmquist
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Nine games into a 26-game homestand, Oklahoma State brings a 10-2 record, and a 26th national ranking, into this weekend’s series with Loyola Marymount at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium, which opens at 6:30 p.m. Friday before a Saturday contest at 3 p.m. and a noon finale on Sunday.
With the success the Cowboys are having under first-year coach Josh Holliday, he’s the first to admit it is a pleasant surprise to find his squad receiving national recognition.
“To be honest, everything coming into the year was a question mark because we’re all new to one another and trying to create a body of work where we could really identify who we are and what we were capable of,” Holliday said. “The exciting thing coming into the year is I thought it was going to be a lot of fun to see how we’d respond because coming out of the gate I felt a sense of confidence within the group the more time we spent together.
“Most importantly, they’ve found ways to cover each other. There have been a few days where we weren’t swinging the bat particularly well, but we were pitching well and we found a way to win,” Holliday added. “Then there have been days where we didn’t pitch great and we swung the bats well to find a way to win. You’re always looking for the ability to show up and compete as a team and complement each other and I’m pleased with how they’ve been able to do that.”
Making the early success perhaps more impressive for the Pokes is just the lack of true college experience Holliday’s group of players has. There are very few in the lineup with much more than a year of playing at the college level.
“I’m most pleased with how they continue to work each day and try to get better,” Holliday said. “I’m proud of them for some of the early results. There have been some good results early on, but I’m most pleased with how they keep coming back for more each day with a desire to get better — and that’s an important ingredient to becoming a great team.”
Oklahoma State is second among Big 12 teams in runs per game, averaging 6.9 runs a contest — trailing Kansas State with 7 runs a game. The Cowboy pitching staff has been able to grow under a new pitching coach, Rob Walton, thanks to the offense keeping the Cowboys in games.
“It’s easy to feed off one another. When the pitchers are doing well, the hitters have more confidence and when the hitters are doing well, the pitchers have more confidence,” said Tanner Krietemeier, who is batting a team-high .413 and is tied for second on the squad with 12 runs batted in. “Once that happens, it builds a lot of team chemistry and has really been getting us going.”
The offense may get another chance to work on little things against a 5-8 Loyola Marymount team sports a team ERA of 3.77, though Friday night’s starter, Colin Welmon has a 2-1 record with an ERA of just 0.86.
“Offense is always a big part of the game, so to establish that early on is pretty big,” Krietemeier said. “We’re going out there hitting, getting the job done.”