Bruce Waterfield/OSU Athletics

This Cowboys Team Earned Respect, Admiration

Oklahoma State's baseball season came to a close Saturday but not before taking Cowboys fans on a postseason run they hadn't experienced in many years. But those fans should respect and celebrate this team.

This may surprise some of you but this is really the only message board that I read. I don't even go to any of the other Scout and Go Pokes message boards. I probably should but I figure this is where people know to find me, know that I will answer questions, comments, and requests. I also have been told that if I peruse some of the other boards that I might not like what I other people might have to say about me. Heck, I've got thick skin. I've heard it on radio and read it here too.

Some people might be surprised to know that I kind of like a good argument, even a nasty one, although I'm going to be reserved, if not respectful, in my comments about others. Not seeing other boards is why I was surprised to find out from Oklahoma State athletic department employees that after the two eighth inning collapses and losses in the Big 12 Tournament that there was a lot of negative comments about Josh Holliday and the baseball program. My discovery of this came in Omaha on Monday night as the Cowboys were finishing off that 1-0 jewel of a pitching performance by Tyler Buffett. 

"Can you believe what some of our fans were saying about Josh Holliday and baseball a few weeks ago? I wonder what those people are thinking now," said a high level employee in the athletic department. 

I soon got some details on what they were saying. Then after reading a mild comment from one of our subscribers and posters that is a former player kind of further confirmed it for me. It wasn't a bad comment, just a disapproving feeling about this team until they made that fantastic NCAA run through South Carolina beating one of the ACC's best in Clemson in the regional and then one of the SEC's best in South Carolina in the super regional.

I'll admit the 2-0 start in Omaha followed by the back-to-back losses to Arizona was a tough way to go out but in his four years as the head coach of his alma mater, Josh Holliday has won two regionals, a super regional, made the final four in Omaha, and finished second in a regional in Louisville. The Cowboys have hosted two regionals and a super regional. Pretty good for a program that had achieved some, but had become very average before Josh took it over.

Then we get to this team. It is one that should be remembered for a long time. It was a team that refused to be average. These kids had plenty of opportunities to just play out the string, but with every slap in the face came a resolve to fight harder. They became closer, in some ways became goofier, but used all of it to care more and become better. That definition is what this team was all about

  1. (of a substance or object) able to recoil or spring back into shape after bending, stretching, or being compressed.
    synonyms: flexiblepliablesupple; More
    • (of a person or animal) able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions.
      "the fish are resilient to most infections"

That definition is what this team was all about. They were resilient throughout the season. Opening the season they suffered five one-run losses, four of those losses walk-off, one-run losses, in the first seven games. They responded by winning 16 of the next 18 games. Those wins included a win over 26th-ranked Dallas Baptist, two wins over 18th-ranked Michigan, a sweep in the opening conference series on the road at Kansas State, and a win over 15th-ranked Arkansas. 

Then they lost six of their next seven games including being swept at home by 19th-ranked Texas Tech in a conference series. They followed by winning 12 of the next 14 games, including two out of three from fourth-ranked TCU and a sweep on the road at Texas. 

Losing two out of three to Oklahoma and then the two blowout losses (13-5 to TCU and 12-8 to Texas) were the cause of most of the negative comments sent to the athletic department or making the rounds on message boards. After the NCAA postseason and the trip to Omaha I would like to think all of those folks would take those comments back. I'm not saying fans can't complain, gripe, have a negative opinion or be frustrated with their team's play. I believe they can. I'm not likely to join in because, frankly, I'm too close to it. I generally like the coaches, and if I don't I've been known to make that public.

Right now, every coach in the program is one that I have a very positive feeling about. Coaching at Oklahoma State is very strong across the board. Baseball is just another example of how well athletic director Mike Holder has done in getting opinions, gathering information, and making excellent decisions on who is leading the programs in Stillwater. Josh Holliday is a shining example and one comment he made in the post game following that very difficult loss on Saturday to end the CWS run proves it.

"I kind of get grossed out in these press conferences when coaches sit up here and tell you how smart they are, what a great job they've done to get them here," Holliday said in his opening remark to the media in the interview room. He was completely deflecting the credit to his players.

"Our kids brought us here. They brought us here. Tommy Hatch brought us here. Corey Hassel brought us here. Trey Cobb and Donovan Walton. I could go down the list," Holliday said passionately. "They brought OSU to the College World Series. They did it with unity, they did it with pride, and they just are really special. And I'm just going to -- the only thing that's going to change is we don't get to go to practice tomorrow or get ready for one more three-game series or share one more meal. But our relationships and what we've accomplished as a group and the impression they've left at our school and, more importantly, for us as a program, as we try to grow into consistently great, these kids took the biggest step and the toughest one. The only one left was to win the whole thing.

"I just want to celebrate them, thank them, thank the people who have cared for them in school, in the weight room, academic center, that have fed them, that have given them this chance, given us a chance to be together for this long and play up until the final game," continued the head coach. "So other than that, I'm not capable of probably putting a whole lot more together for you, because I need to spend some time with them and to properly thank them. But this is a celebration of a special team and wonderful bunch of kids.

"And many of you who follow college baseball closely, you didn't give us a shot. And rightfully so. There were times this year we weren't very good. But we finished good. And we finished because of these kids and their hearts. And they showed you down the stretch they were made of the right stuff, as we thought we were early. And it was a journey. And these guys know now you can get through anything if you've got strong relationships and care for one another. And the way they played the last 20 games showed the true colors of these kids. I'm very proud of them and I'm proud that they're here at the College World Series where we can thank them appropriately and say goodbye to them."

In the end, the loss isn't the saddest or most disappointing aspect of this. It is that we can't see this same team and many of the standout players in orange and black playing together ever again. However, they have planted the seed, and it is up to Holliday, his staff and the returning players to make sure they stay resilient and that the seed grows.

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