Oklahoma State Oklahoma State begins its 102nd season of baseball this week with a trip to Albuquerque, N.M., to take on No. 21 New Mexico in a three-game series at Isotopes Park. The Cowboys are entering their first season under head coach Josh Holliday, a former star at OSU in the 1990s. OSU is coming off a 2012 season in which the Cowboys finished 32-25 overall, which included coming in fifth in the Big 12 Conference standings with a 13-11 mark. A pair of All-Big 12 performers in Robbie Rea and Randy McCurry lead a group of 15 returning letterwinners from 2012, while 19 newcomers round out the OSU roster. The Cowboys were picked by league coaches to finish fifth in the Big 12 race. TCU was tabbed as the favorite.
About New Mexico New Mexico has made three-straight NCAA Tournament appearances and is coming off a 2012 campaign that saw the Lobos finish with a 37-24 mark. Preseason All-Americans D.J. Peterson (.419, 17 HR, 78 RBI) and Mitchell Garver (.377, 10 HR, 57 RBI) lead coach Ray Birmingham's club, which returns six starters in 2013. Expected to start on the mound for the Lobos this weekend are: Fri. - RHP A.J. Carman Sat. - TBA Sun. - TBA OSU is 7-1 all time against New Mexico, and the last time the two teams met came in 2011 in Stillwater with the Cowboys sweeping a three-game series. The Cowboys' lone loss against UNM came in 1976 in a 1-0 game in Edinburg, Texas.
Watch, Listen, Follow All OSU baseball games are carried live by Stillwater Radio and will air on KSPI 93.7 FM or 780 AM. Rex Holt, who is in his 31st season with Cowboy baseball, will call the action, with Matt "Chief" Davis providing color commentary. GameTracker live stats for all games can be found at www.okstate.com. Additionally, live online video and audio for all home games not televised can be accessed via okstate.com (a fee is involved with this service). Video/audio/live stats links are all available on the OSU baseball page under Schedule.
Winning The goal of college baseball coaches and players is to make it to the College World Series in Omaha, and the OSU coaching staff has plenty of experience in that regard. The Cowboys' staff of Josh Holliday, Rob Walton and Marty Lees has combined to make 12 CWS appearances as either a player or coach. Holliday played on a pair of CWS teams at OSU (1996 & 1999) and has coached in the CWS as an assistant at Georgia Tech (2006), Arizona State (2009) and Vanderbilt (2011). Walton spent four seasons as a pitcher at OSU from 1983-86, and each of those Cowboy teams appeared in the CWS. As an assistant coach at Oregon State, Lees helped lead the Beavers to Omaha three-straight years from 2005-07, with two of those trips resulting in national championships (2006 & 2007).
R-E-S-P-E-C-T Despite his having not yet coached a game, Baseball America named OSU's Josh Holliday the nation's top college head coach under the age of 40. The top 10 list was compiled based on the voting of coaches and scouts. In addition, Marty Lees came in at No. 6 on Baseball America's list of the nation's top 10 college assistant coaches. That list was compiled by compiling the votes of 70 Division I head coaches across the country, as well as the input of more than a dozen scouts. Coaches with prior Division I head coaching experience, such as OSU pitching coach Rob Walton, were excluded from the list.
Baseball In Their Blood Baseball -- and Oklahoma State -- is definitely a family affair for Josh Holliday. Josh's father, Tom, served as an OSU assistant coach for 19 years then took over as the Cowboys' head coach from 1997-2003, leading the program to its last College World Series appearance in 1999. Tom is currently in his seventh season as the associate head coach at North Carolina State Josh's younger brother, Matt, is an outfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals. In nine major league seasons, Matt has been named to six All-Star teams. Josh's uncle, Dave Holliday, was an OSU assistant coach from 1981-88 and has since held a variety of roles in Major League Baseball, including his current spot as a professional scout for the Atlanta Braves. Dave's son, Heath, is a senior catcher for the Cowboys this season.
New Faces Along with the new coaching staff, OSU's 34-man 2013 roster includes 15 newcomers -- eight junior college transfers, six high school players and an NAIA transfer. The group includes JUCO stars Tanner Krietemeier and Nick Dolsky, who both began their careers at Nebraska, as well as Brendan McCurry and Kyle Gehrs. All four are expected to be immediate contributors in their first seasons in Stillwater. The freshman class includes Donnie Walton, a 36th-round pick in last year's MLB Draft, who is the Cowboys' starting shortstop, along with prep stars such as Corey Hassel, Blake Brom and Alex Hackerott, each of who will be in the mix for playing time.
Home Sweet Home Allie P. Reynolds Stadium has been home to Oklahoma State baseball since 1981, and in those 32 seasons the Cowboys have been nearly unbeatable on their home field. OSU is 812-183 (.816) all time at Reynolds Stadium and has lost more than two consecutive games on their home turf only three times (six in a row in May 2007; three straight in 2010 and 2012). The Cowboys were 24-7 at home in 2012.
Grab A Snickers Following their opening weekend in New Mexico, the Cowboys return to Stillwater and won't be going anywhere for a while. On Feb. 19, OSU will open a 26-game homestand at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium as the Cowboys won't return to the road until an April 2 game at Oklahoma. In April and May, OSU will play just seven games on its home field.
Two-Way Talent Randy McCurry has proven to be valuable with his arm and his bat during his time in Stillwater and earned All-Big 12 Second Team honors as a utility player a year ago. Now a fifth-year senior, McCurry hopes to continue that trend in 2013. McCurry was used mostly as a starter on the mound last season, with 12 of his 15 appearances coming in a starting role, but he is expected to return to the bullpen this year, possibly as the Cowboys' closer. In 61 career appearances, he is 10-8 with 11 saves and a 2.89 ERA, with his 11 saves ranking fourth in OSU history. Offensively, McCurry sports career numbers of four home runs and 23 RBIs to go along with a .262 batting average. After taking over the Cowboys' DH role late last season, he hit .342 in 10 conference games. McCurry is three years removed from Tommy John surgery after he suffered a season-ending elbow injury in OSU's 2010 season opener. As a freshman in 2009, he tied OSU's single-season record with 10 saves. In a team-high 28 appearances, he was also 4-1 with a team-best 2.16 ERA and 54 Ks in 41.2 innings.
Rea Returns In his first season in an OSU uniform, Robbie Rea was OSU's top hitter and earned All-Big 12 Second Team honors. Rea returns for his senior season in '13 but at least one thing will be different -- after starting 56 games at second base a year ago, he'll be manning third base for the Cowboys this year. At the plate, Rea was a .324 hitter in 2012 and led the Cowboys with 23 multi-hit games and five home runs. He ranked in the top 10 in the Big 12 in hits (72) and doubles (18). Rea's junior season was highlighted by a record-setting performance in the first game of a doubleheader against Alabama A&M. In that contest, the Cowboy second baseman was 5-for-5 at the plate with three home runs, two doubles and nine RBIs. With the three homers, Rea became just the 10th Cowboy in history to homer three times in a game, a feat that has been achieved just 13 times in OSU history and hadn't been done since 2009. Rea's 16 total bases also tied a Big 12 record, and his nine RBIs in the game were one shy of the OSU and Big 12 marks.
Back On The Bump Two years ago, Jason Hursh was a highly touted freshman for the Cowboys, coming to Stillwater after a standout prep career that culminated with him being a sixth-round pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2010 Major League Baseball Draft. In his first collegiate season, the hard-throwing right-hander made 10 appearances, including four starts, and was 1-1 with a 2.73 ERA. But the native Texan was forced to miss the 2012 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Following the successful procedure, Hursh is back for his redshirt sophomore season in 2013 and expected to be one of the aces of the Cowboys' staff. With a fastball in the mid- to upper90s in his repertoire, Hursh is listed by Baseball America as fourth-best prospect in the Big 12 for the 2013 Major League Baseball Draft.
Flashing The Leather OSU has recorded a fielding percentage over .970 just eight times in its history, and seven of those have come in the last eight years. One of those came last season, when the Cowboys set a school record with a .980 mark that was also the best in the Big 12 and ranked second nationally. In 2010, the Cowboys set a then-school record with a .978 fielding percentage, a mark that ranked fifth nationally. From 2008-10, OSU tied or set the school record for fielding percentage every year, and the Cowboys led the Big 12 in that category in 2008 and 2009. In 2011, OSU led the Big 12 and ranked third nationally with 73 double plays.
Short Hops Senior center fielder Jarrett Higgins recorded 17 stolen bases a year ago, despite playing in just 35 games. That total was the third-highest total in a season by a Cowboy since 2003. As a freshman at Nebraska in 2010, Nick Dolsky worked two scoreless innings in relief and struck out three against OSU in Lincoln. Dolsky is now a junior for the Cowboys. Sophomore Zach Fish had OSU's longest hitting streak of the 2012 season, which reached 14 games.