Cowboys Heading Back To Fayetteville

The NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament Committee gave the Oklahoma State Cowboys a break on Monday when the "Road to Omaha" bracket was announced. The committee put the slumping Oklahoma State nine closer to home with a third seed at the Fayetteville Regional hosted by No. 7 national seed Arkansas. The Fayetteville Regional begins Friday, June 1, and runs through Monday, June 4.

The Cowboys likely slipped to the third line after a slumping end of the season performance that saw them lose six in a row, including all three pool games in the Big 12 Tournament. Oklahoma State (38-19) will open the double elimination regional at 2:30 p.m. Friday against second seed Creighton (44-14), the Missouri Valley champion after defeating Wichita State 10-9 in 12 innings on Saturday in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.

For those of you wondering where the break is from the tournament committee, it was speculated heavily on Friday and Saturday at the Big 12 Tournament that Oklahoma State's second straight late season swoon might have them packing as a three seed to either top national seed Vanderbilt or second seed Rice. Instead, the Cowboys go to a site where they had some success last season and one that is a short bus ride from Stillwater.

The competition, however, is no break at all. Creighton is strong as the Bluejays, making their eighth overall appearance in the NCAA Tournament, have plenty of talent and much of that is on the mound. The Bluejays are led by four players who were named first team All-Missouri Valley Conference. Sophomore first baseman Darin Ruf (.377, 8 HRs, 56 RBIs) was named the Joe Carter MVC Player of the Year, while junior southpaw Ben Mancuso (10-2, 2.28 ERA) was named MVC Pitcher of the Year. Also named first-team all-MVC were relief pitchers Andy Masten (4-3, 1.74 ERA, 16 saves) and Pat Venditte (8-2, 4 saves, 1.83 ERA).

Arkansas (41-19) is the seventh seed for a reason, although just a year ago the Razorbacks were unable to make it out of their own regional. Little is known about the fourth seed and Arkansas' leadoff opponent in automatic qualifier Albany (29-27).

"We're excited to be going back to Arkansas," Oklahoma State head coach Frank Anderson said. "As always, when you get into the NCAA Tournament, every team is tough, but we have confidence that we have a team that can compete at a high level and give us a chance to win."

"We're pumped," said OSU senior left fielder Ty Wright. "We're confident and ready to go to Arkansas and play and see what happens. We've been there before and won in a tough environment so we'll be ready. We know what we're capable of, and we just have to go out and prove it."

The winner of the Fayetteville Regional will match up with the winner of the Coumbia, Mo., Regional, hosted by Missouri, for the Super Regional round. Top seed Missouri (40-16) has fourth seed Kent (33-24) along with second seed Miami, Fla. (36-22) and third seed Louisville (40-20) in their regional. Oklahoma State would only host if they won in Fayetteville and Louisville or Kent won in Columbia.

Overall, the ACC had seven teams in and two national seeds, while the Big 12 had six teams in with one national seed in Texas. The other Big 12 teams in the NCAA Tournament include Missouri (regional host), Texas A&M (regional host), Texas (regional host), Baylor (third seed at Houston Regional, hosted by Rice), and Nebraska (third seed at the Tempe Regional, hosted by Arizona State).

(, the official website of Oklahoma State athletics contributed to this story.)

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