Cowboys Taking Care of Business

OKLAHOMA CITY - At Tuesday's Big 12 Baseball Tournament luncheon and press conference the most popular coach was Oklahoma State's Frank Anderson. Even Texas' Augie Garrido, coach of the Big 12 regular season first-place squad and tournament pool #1 top seed, was finished before Anderson.

The reason for the popularity of the Cowboys coach is simple. After winning 21 of their last 24 games - and 15 of their last 17 Big 12 games - Oklahoma State is the hottest team going into the Big 12 Baseball Tournament which starts Wednesday at the AT&T Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City.

The Cowboys open the tourney with Missouri in Wednesday's 8 p.m. feature game. As usual the coaches all thanked the Big 12, Oklahoma City, and their coaching staffs and support people for getting them to OKC. Frank Anderson was the first and only coach that thanked his players.

"It's a good group of kids and at some point in the season they started steering the ship and taking ownership and accountability," Anderson explained of the turnaround from a 3-7 conference start to an 18-9 second-place finish. "At Missouri we started going that direction and they have been fun to watch. We're not perfect, we make some mistakes now and then, but they have been pretty fun to watch and for the most part the kids have competed at a pretty high level."

A good example of how the Cowboys have taken turns of making the right plays, pitches and swings came in the final Big 12 weekend sweep of Texas Tech. It was the Cowboys fourth sweep of a Big 12 opponent this season. The weekend before in the sweep of Oklahoma first baseman Adam Carr broke a bone in his hand. Carr had moved from catcher to first when season-opening starter Rebel Ridling had broke a bone in his hand. With Carr out Ridling returned to the lineup and made defensive plays and swung the bat well including a two-run double on Saturday to help beat the Red Raiders.

"It's neat to see somebody that works as hard as he does get rewarded," said Anderson. "He was playing well when he got hurt and he had a tough stretch coming back and fitting. He has worked hard and he made the most of it this past weekend."

The Cowboys have not only done their job on the diamond, but they would also likely be Big 12 academic champs in baseball. Their in season grades actually topped the offseason report card results. Anderson thinks academic success actually fuels diamond production.

"I think we had 24 or 25 kids over a 3.0 (GPA) and as a team our grade-point average was over 3.0," boasted the proud Cowboy coach. "That kind of sets the tone for what we do on the field a little bit. They take care of their business, and the spring has a lot of things that keep them from wanting to go to class and doing things in the classroom, like the draft and our season and I think they have done a wonderful job from that aspect."

This week and weekend if the production keeps up the Cowboys could find themselves at home to start the NCAA Tournament. During the press conference the Big 12 coaches lobbied for as many as six teams in the NCAA Tournament. The selection committee wasn't in attendance, but the number is more likely to be four, maybe five. The thought is two, maybe three, Big 12 teams will host regionals. Texas is a given, but Anderson isn't taking anything for granted with the Cowboys second place surge.

"We haven't really talked about it a whole lot, and up until our Bedlam series I didn't really think it was a possibility," Anderson said of hosting NCAA play. "Then we won those three games and winning the three games against Tech also helps. A lot of things go into that and a lot of times there isn't any rhyme or reason as to what goes on, but there is nothing we can control. If they tell us we're here then we'll be excited and if not, we'll go play somewhere else."

Right now the Cowboys know they play Missouri on Wednesday night, Kansas at 8 p.m. on Friday night, and renew Bedlam with Oklahoma at 5 p.m. on Saturday. The Cowboys will likely get Nathan Culp on the mound for the Tigers. Culp was the winning pitcher in the Friday game at Missouri, the night the Cowboys held a team meeting and turned the season around. They could get Kodiak Quick, Kansas' ace, and they will get revenge minded Daniel McCutchen from OU on Saturday.

The question is after Matt Gardner on Wednesday who will the Cowboys throw? One advantage of the late game times is knowing what everybody else did every step of the way. O-State ace lefty Brae Wright will get a choice assignment, maybe OU, a team he shut out convincingly. Anderson has had three different pitchers pitch the last four Sunday games and all ended up being the right choice, except against Nebraska.

"You know what that means Robert? That means we're not sure who we like in that three spot," joked Anderson. "I like it the other way when you have three guys that you know are going to be there for you every weekend, but looking at it as a positive. We have had some kids that have been out there (on the pitching mound) in conference play in meaningful times. We are going to look at it as a positive."

As for Bedlam on Saturday all of the other Big 12 coaches said they were looking forward to being in the stadium and watching that one. That game received the marque spot of the weekend on the schedule.

"I think that was kind of predetermined," said Anderson. "I don't know that, but I think it was. The higher Oklahoma team was going to play the evening games and if the two Oklahoma schools met it would be on Saturday. I think it is going to be a lot of fun."

It will be even more fun if the Cowboys keep up their habit of taking care of business on Wednesday and Friday. Imagine 2-0 Oklahoma State playing 2-0 Oklahoma for the right to play for the Big 12 tournament title in Sunday's 1 p.m. title game.

GoPokes Top Stories