Big 12 buffet

Tom Holliday is hungry. His team is a little peeved that Baylor came into Stillwater and swiped two wins. Appetizers are over, the Cowboys' appetites are whetted, and Josh Fields wants to know -- where's the conference beef??

Beefing up the Oklahoma State baseball schedule was a task that the coaching staff knew it needed to tackle. Finishing high in the RPI rankings was a must on the Cowboys' preseason shopping list.

Now, OSU sits in the middle of a heated Big 12 Conference title race -- each game counts, and according to the skipper, the opponents are all of the gourmet persuasion.

"We don't have any cupcakes on our schedule -- they are all steak," OSU coach Tom Holliday said.

The No. 21 Cowboys (25-11, 8-4 Big 12) open up a three-game series with No. 16 Texas A&M (30-11, 10-5) tonight at Olsen Field in College Station, Texas. Tied for third-place in the league, winning the series is important to the future of both teams.

Texas leads the conference in winning percentage, followed by Nebraska, and OSU and A&M.

"A&M's playing good," Holliday said. "But if we have a good weekend and somebody up in Nebraska takes a series, who knows where you're gonna end up after this."

Traveling to College Station will be a new experience for most of the young Cowboy team. It is known as a "hostile environment" for visitors, and fans at Olsen Field are expected to continue the tradition when the Cowboys roll into town.

Third baseman and quarterback of the OSU football team, Josh Fields, is looking forward to the challenge that the Aggies will pose on the field -- and in the stands.

"It will be rowdy, hostile and everything you can think of," Fields said. "But, sometimes you gotta have that incentive to drive you. I am kinda looking forward to it."

And, with a race for the title, that kind of attitude is just what Holliday likes to see in his players.

"I hope Josh spreads that feeling throughout the ballclub," Holliday said. "I expect A&M to challenge us, I expect their crowd to show up."

As only one of the two returning regulars off last year's team, coupled with his gridiron experience, Fields will be a leader during the series with the Aggies, Holliday said.

"I've got seven new people gonna walk in and see their first sellout, and if it is sold out down there and they're doing their chants and body movements, then only a guy who's played quarterback in front of 55 (or) 60,000 people can warm up to it. Sometimes our new guys may have to feed off him, cause I am sure Josh Fields won't be bothered by a crowd.

"He's the only quarterback I got."

Tuesday, the Aggies hosted Texas-Arlington, and drew a crowd of 5,136. A midweek game, a non-conference opponent, and A&M generated more fans that Allie P. Reynolds Stadium in Stillwater (capacity 4,000) can hold.

"We are just gonna have to concentrate on what we came there for, this weekend is detrimental to this ballclub. A team plays at home and they get rattled easily because they are supposed to win games in their own park. It is easy for an opponent to come in and take over the show sometimes, and get comfortable, and I hope we can do that."

The Aggies beat UTA 7-6 Tuesday, a team that the Cowboys also defeated by one run, 3-2. Common Big 12 opponents both teams have faced include Kansas State and Baylor. K-State was swept by both the Aggies and the Cowboys, and Baylor took 2-of-3 games from OSU and A&M.

"We are pretty even, I think, in terms of production," Holliday said. "No doubt it will be a hard-fought series. I expect good things to happen though, we have a bad taste in our mouths about giving up two games at home to Baylor. Maybe now we can go do the same to somebody else."

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