The Cowboys have definitely needed young Walton.
With no experienced middle infielders on the roster back in the fall, OSU's up-the-middle defense was a major concern. But the pieces have fallen into place, with senior Randy McCurry's career revival providing a surprise answer at shortstop, and Walton's superb play at second solidifying one of the league's best defensive infields.
It's hard to picture the team without the young Walton, although it was never the plan for him to go to OSU.
Originally, the coach's son was headed to ORU. Yet when dad — a finalist for the Cowboys' head coaching job — made the unselfish move to join Holliday back at their alma mater as pitching coach, Donnie followed.
And fit right in.
“I was trying to prove that I can play, doing whatever I can for the team,” he said. “Whether that was me waiting for my turn, or where I'm at right now.
“I know the seniors, Victor Romero especially, they took me in and said, ‘You've proved yourself. You don't have to think anymore about being a coach's son. You're part of the family.'”
And he's proven himself over and over, revealing a toughness in bouncing back from two knee surgeries in the winter, as well as a broken finger.
“He's earned all his stripes on his own,” Holliday said. “He's very well received by his teammates, a very popular kid and amazingly likable. And he's been one of our more consistent, clutch players all year long. He's been fantastic.”
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OSU vs. Miami
When: 1 p.m. Friday
Where: Jim Patterson Stadium, Louisville, Ky.