Zach Fish Gives Credit To Teammates

OKLAHOMA CITY - Following the Big 12's annual pre-tournament luncheon at Mickey Mantle's restaurant, across the street from the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, Oklahoma State's Zach Fish said his plan was to go back to the team hotel to take a nap. The Cowboys were one of the first teams to work out in the ballpark on Tuesday morning.

"I want the guys to get up and not hang out in the hotel room all morning and most of the day," Oklahoma State head coach and Big 12 Coach of the Year Josh Holliday said. "I requested 10 o'clock for a practice time."

That meant that Holliday, Fish, and baseball sports information director Wade McWhorter came to the luncheon straight from practice. Holliday and Fish were in their practice gear.

Fish is a 5-11, 212-pound junior out of Kalamazoo, Mich., who said after his nap, he was looking forward to hanging out with his teammates, heading to the ballpark for the Big 12 Tournament Banquet for the eight teams, and then a movie later, maybe Godzilla.

"We have a very deep league and we have a lot of great players that have great numbers," Fish said humbly. "I think this has a lot to do with the fact that we have a great team and we've won a lot of games this season. I don't look at this as an individual award. Without my teammates I wouldn't be here receiving this today. It is definitely a team award. I'm not here without my guys."

The talk in the major leagues is protection. You need to have good hitters up and down the order that protect each other and force pitchers to deal with each hitter in an honest way when they are at the plate. The Cowboys have not only each other's back but according to Fish they have each other's at-bats.

"I definitely agree and when you have Saulyer Saxon and Gage Green at the top of your order working pitchers, bunting, getting on base; and then when Gage isn't the lead off then he's batting clean up; that is a great start," said Fish, giving a scouting rundown opposing pitchers would love to eavesdrop on.

"Donnie Walton had such a good year this year and Tanner Krietemeier had the hardest .240 early this season I had ever seen. He was hitting so many line drives and hitting the ball well and it just didn't fall in. Gage Green hit ahead of me all year and he got on base a lot. I always had faith in Tim Arakawa, Conor Costello, and Craig McConaughy to knock runs in if I didn't get the job done."

Before we forget to give Fish any credit for winning the award, he should get plenty. He has always been a strong hitter when it came to fastballs, but as for junk, off-speed and breaking balls he has struggled. He has also needed to work on hitting the ball to the opposite field. Taking what limited opportunities pitchers were going to give him became an off-season priority.

"The big thing going against me last year was I didn't hit the off-speed pitch well," Fish explained. "In big situations that is all they would throw because I would miss it every time. I'd be out on my front foot. I went into the cages early in the fall and got with Josh (Holliday) and Rob (Walton) and I said we have to do something, whether it is mentally or physically, to make sure I stay back and I can hit the breaking ball. It worked and I've had most of my hits off of off speed and breaking pitches because that is a lot of what I get."

Because of his hard work, his teammate's talents, and a strong season for the Cowboys when pitchers look at Fish they see a trophy catch in trying to get out the Big 12 Player of the Year.

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