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Oklahoma State baseball: Josh Holliday coaching era begins Friday

The Cowboys open the regular season at No. 21-ranked New Mexico.
BY ANTHONY SLATER, Staff Writer Modified: February 14, 2013 at 8:13 pm •  Published: February 14, 2013

The heavy-lifting is expected to ride on the shoulders of a pair of returners.

Robbie Rea, who will switch from second to third base, led the team with a .324 batting average and 38 RBIs last season. And right-fielder Zach Fish has some of the best power in the Big 12, used best if he can learn to lay off the breaking stuff.

But the eventual barometer for this team, as it almost always is in baseball, will be the pitching staff.

The Cowboys lost a bulk of its production, including ace and first-round draft pick Andrew Heaney. But they return plenty from injury.

Flamethrower Jason Hursh (reportedly hitting in the upper-90s this summer) and lefty Tyler Nurdin both missed last season with arm injuries. Both return and are expected to headline the weekend rotation.

“On the mound, we've made great progress,” Holliday said. “Our guys from the start of the fall until now have come a really long way. We're healthy, which is really important to us.”

Year one won't be a referendum on the Josh Holliday era. Far from it.

It's the opening stage of a rebuilding job, less about wins and more about “building habits.”

But even if the talent level is similar, the interest level certainly won't be. And that, according to Holliday, could go a long way.

“Quite honestly, without that interest level and fan support, that responsibility to play well doesn't carry the same weight,” Holliday said. “And it's important that the players in our uniform know, there's excitement and there's expectations and it's time to get out there and see where our team is at.”