Stillwater News Press

Sports Columns

June 5, 2014

Press Box Views: Cowboys' coaches know how to win at the highest level

STILLWATER, Okla. — The last time Oklahoma State competed in a Super Regional most of the current players were finishing up junior high school or at the most halfway through high school.

Now they are the first Cowboys baseball team to host a Super Regional and have a chance to advance to the College World Series in front of their own fans. A big key to that is the coaching staff that has experience, winning themselves.

Coach Josh Holliday was a player on the Cowboys last College World Series team in 1999. As an assistant coach, Holliday reached Omaha with Georgia Tech in 2006, Arizona State in 2009 and Vanderbilt in 2011. When Holliday returned to Oklahoma State after the 2012 season, he put together a staff that also had winning experience.

Pitching coach Rob Walton played for Oklahoma State from 1983-1986 and was a part of four straight College World Series teams. In his 14 seasons as a head coach at Oral Roberts University, the Golden Eagles made nine NCAA Regional appearances and reached a Super Regional in 2006.

Assistant coach Marty Lees knows what it’s like to reach the college baseball promise land as he coached with Oregon State for 11 seasons. Lees was apart of Oregon State’s back to back national championships in 2006 and 2007 and recruited most of the players on the Beavers’ current roster.

“We are a coaching team,” coach Josh Holliday said. “All of us bring to this coaching team are ideas that we learned at other places. Rob has an amazing background with his record at Oral Roberts and his experience with Team USA and his four years at Oklahoma State, his Omaha moments as a player. Marty has two national championships and three trips to Omaha. ... What we looked at is what do we think a winning team looks like and how do we make it happen.”

Holliday and his staff have recruited players that know what winning is like — as several players were on state powerhouse teams in high school. Donnie Walton helped lead Bishop Kelley to a Class 5A state championship in 2010. Aaron Cornell helped Roff win fall state championships in 2009 and 2010. In Conor Costello’s sophomore season he helped Edmond Santa Fe finish as Class 6A state runner-ups. Trey Cobb was apart of state championship, runner-up and semifinal teams at Broken Arrow High School. Corey Hassel was a part of a state tournament team at Stillwater High. Andrew Rosa won a state championship with Owasso last season. Blake Battenfield was a part of three state championship teams at Verdigris.

“If you’ve been a part of winning and understand winning and someone has taught you what a team and teammanship is about growing up, you have much greater chance of getting your kids to buy in to what you are teaching here,” Holliday said. “First and foremost we are building teams here. We are playing to win and setting your personal needs aside for the will of the team is character traits now-a-days that are hard to find.”

This may be the farthest in NCAA competition that these players have gone but they have plenty of winning experience.

Andrew Glover is a sports reporter for the Stillwater News Press. He can be reached at

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