McConaughy Is An Unsung Cowboy

Okay, Oklahoma State fans, now that we're looking forward to another full weekend of postseason college baseball with a Super Regional, let's take a look back to last weekend. What was your top highlight of the NCAA Stillwater Regional? It could have been the triple play started by pitcher Jon Perrin or the triple off the wall by Gage Green.

Maybe you enjoyed Brendan McCurry coming in to slam the door on the Cal State Fullerton Titans Saturday. Or seeing the bases loaded only to steal any hope from the Titans with a strikeout to end the Sunday game.

Conor Costello's home run or Bryan Case's homer could be your favorite. However, I think a lot of people had to remember another defensive play.

I know it is almost sacrilegious to pick a defensive play when it comes to Oklahoma State baseball, but the "Baltimore chopper" hit by Binghamton's Shaun McGraw that Cowboys third baseman Craig McConaughy bare-handed and threw to first to get McGraw by half a step to end a threat and keep a run off the board was the one for me.

"On that play, specifically, right when he hit it I thought I had a lot of options. The bases were loaded and I thought I was going to be able to go home with it or touch third, and then after the first bounce it kind of hit a wall in the air," McConaughy said when asked if he made the play more on reflex or thinking it through.

"I kind of reacted and played it out in my head before it happened. Luckily, it went the way it went down in my head and we got out of that inning."

McConaughy is one of the Cowboys that you hear the least from. I'm not sure why as the senior from the Austin, Texas area always has a smile, always has a great attitude. He has performed outstanding this season coming up with countless clutch defensive plays like the one from Friday night's first game in the regional, and his offense has been solid including some heroic moments like the Sunday series-clinching win in Austin with his 3-for-4 effort with three RBI and a home run to kick start the game for the Cowboys.

"He may be one of the most unappreciated kids in the lineup and unknown but not by us."

He's done all this after arriving from Navarro Junior College somewhat unheralded.

"He's awesome. Craig is as popular among his teammates as anybody on the team," said Cowboys head coach Josh Holliday. "He is a tremendous practice player. He is the ultimate story of a kid that has been told countless times that you're not great, you're not a Division I player and went to junior college before coming here. He came into a coaching change and had a great attitude about him.

"I said, ‘I'm the new coach at Oklahoma State and I wanted to call you and introduce myself to you and see how you were doing.' He said, ‘I'm doing great but I've got a broken arm right now.' I said, 'how did that happen?' And he said he ran into someone.

"Even then, his outlook was upbeat. He has a broken arm and there's a coaching change and he's got an upbeat attitude and he brings that with him everywhere he goes."

McConaughy was a defensive player last season that played in certain situations, but as Holliday expressed McConaughy was determined to play a greater role this season and he went about it with his team first attitude.

"He came back this year and all fall had this look on his face like, ‘coach, I'm going to play,' and I said, ‘okay Craig, I kind of believe you.' When he got his opportunity to play, look what he has done with it," Holliday said.

"One of the lowest maintenance kids you'll ever coach. He does what he is supposed to in school. He's one of those kids that you are lucky to coach. His defense has been of the highest end and his offense has been shockingly productive if you look at all the categories, hit by pitches, sacrifice bunts, and runs batted in. He has been strong in all categories.

"He may be one of the most unappreciated kids in the lineup and unknown but not by us."

McConaughy normally hits eighth in the Cowboys lineup but the Pokes offense has developed into a stout 1-9 arsenal.

"Our lineup has definitely come a long way since the start of the season," McConaughy said. "I'm batting behind Conor Costello and he has nine home runs now and is usually in the seven hole."

So, you're protecting him? "Yeah, exactly I'm protecting him," McConaughy continued while laughing about the thought of his bat serving as protection.

"We can hurt you in a lot of ways and at every spot in the lineup we can do a lot of damage, a lot of different ways."

No laughing, McConaughy is hitting .312 with six doubles, the home run against Texas, and 23 RBI. Not to mention, like Holliday said. all of his unselfish actions he has made at the plate. It goes back to that attitude, one that is very admirable and worth copying not matter what sport or activity you apply it to.

"I've learned a lot being at OSU and going through juco and all of that," the senior said. "You just have to keep a good attitude with baseball. My mom always tells me, ‘have fun, it's baseball after all.' I always try to have a good outlook and try and have fun every day."

Thankfully, those days extend to this weekend and another two or three games for McConaughy in the park he really loves playing in.

"I think the thing we were all most excited about with Cal-Irvine beating Oregon State was we get to play again in front of all our Stillwater fans and pack out Allie P," McConaughy said with that familiar smile. "We are really excited and just trying to live in the moment and take it step by step and pitch by pitch."

Whether he is in the field at third base or at the plate looking to move some teammates over, McConaughy is having fun.

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