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Oklahoma State baseball: There's no discouraging Josh Holliday heading into his second season

Josh Holliday can start getting a clearer gauge on his squad this weekend, when the Cowboys open their season at the UTA/Hilton Invitational on the campus of Texas-Arlington.
by John Helsley Published: February 13, 2014

Josh Holliday's debut as Oklahoma State baseball coach delivered.

Delivered 41 wins and Big 12 contention and an NCAA Tournament berth, restoring pride in the program in the process.

So it was all good.

For starters.

“Every day, we're looking to get better,” Holliday said.

Most days recently have worked against that quest, with rough winter weather creating challenges for getting in quality work, especially on the field. Yet the Cowboys have benefitted from use of the indoor practice facility geared for football and shared by several sports.

And, really, there's no discouraging Holliday's drive or his optimism.

“I feel really good about the direction we're heading,” he said. “We're by no means where we want to be, but we're getting closer every day.

“That's all you can really hope for.”

Holliday can start getting a clearer gauge on his squad this weekend, when the Cowboys open their season at the UTA/Hilton Invitational on the campus of Texas-Arlington. Game 1 is set for Friday at 11 a.m. against Incarnate Word.

This club features a melding of old and new, with 18 newcomers joining a cast of core returning players. All-Big 12 outfielder Zach Fish, first baseman and leading hitter Tanner Krietemeier, outfielders Saulyer Saxon and Gage Green and Donnie Walton, who shifts from second base to shortstop, all return off strong seasons.

“We return some good players from a year ago who were centerpieces to our success,” Holliday said.

The Cowboys' strength, however, should be pitching.

OSU returns two-thirds of its weekend rotation and pitchers who combine for 30 of the team's 41 wins, yet also expects a jolt of new talent to create competition for roles bolster an already formidable staff.

Left-hander Tyler Nurdin and righty Mark Robinette combined for 11 wins and 27 starts in 2013. Swing man Vince Wheeland filled many roles out of the bullpen in racking up eight wins and a 1.97 earned run average in an All-Big 12 season, while closer Brendan McCurry won six and saved eight games.

Arkansas transfer Conor Costello should make an impact as a two-way player, and a trio of highly rated freshmen — Garrett Williams, Thomas Hatch and Tyler Buffett — are young arms bidding for prominent spots, along with several holdovers.

They've made an impression on the veterans.

“A lot of them bring it up there, in the low 90s, good off-speed, which you don't always see a lot with freshmen,” Saxon said. “They can pitch.”

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by John Helsley
OSU Reporter Sr.
John Helsley grew up in Del City, reading all the newspapers and sports magazines he could get his hands on. And Saturday afternoons, when the Major League Game of the Week was on, he'd keep a scorecard for the game. So the sports appeal was was...
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