STILLWATER — At the beginning of the season, Oklahoma State baseball coach Josh Holliday wasn’t sure how he planned to use Conor Costello.
“We thought he may be one of our weekend starting pitchers, but we also thought he might be our four-hole hitter, too,” Holliday said.
Now, there’s no doubt what Costello is.
The sophomore from Edmond Santa Fe isn’t hitting fourth for the Cowboys, but he’s been a critical piece in OSU’s offensive success near the end of the season.
In last week’s regional, Costello was 6 for 12 with six RBIs and two home runs. Four of his nine home runs have come in the last nine games as the Cowboys made it to the Big 12 Tournament championship game and then rolled through the regional to advance to a Super Regional this week.
The Cowboys open the best-of-3 Super Regional against UC Irvine at 8:30 p.m. Friday at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium.
Costello is hitting .238, but his worth in the lineup has been invaluable of late.
“It’s not necessarily been nothing a whole lot different,” Costello said. “I’ve kind of stayed content with my approach. Coach has helped a lot. It’s been a lot of trust between the team, up and down the lineup, knowing that whoever comes up can get the job done. That’s helped a lot for me being more comfortable at the plate and having a better mindset each and every game.”
Coaches and teammates have noticed a change.
“It’s just trusting himself a little more and getting more comfortable,” outfielder Saulyer Saxon said. “He’s a great hitter. He’s got quick hands. Earlier in the year, maybe he was chasing some pitches or he was unsure of some stuff.
“Almost everything he hits now seems to be hard. He’s doing a heck of a job.”
In the regional, he was 2 for 4 in each of the three games. In the final two games, both wins over Cal State Fullerton, Costello had a combined five RBIs and hit a pair of two-run homers.
Costello transferred to Oklahoma State after spending his freshman year at Arkansas. He didn’t play at all last year after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
“It’s been a long journey, but I don’t regret one single bit of it,” Costello said. “I’m so glad I’m here and part of this team. This team’s unbelievable.”
After two early season starts on the mound, Costello has concentrated solely on his offensive development.
“He’s a talented kid that’s been a two-way player that has had so many talents that he’s dabbled in both pitching and hitting but never really, I think, focused or was 100 percent into the development of one of those skills,” Holliday said. “We wanted to give him a chance to focus on one thing ...I think you’re starting to see a young man settle into some confidence and consistency.”