Road Warriors Ready For Louisville

STILLWATER - The Oklahoma State Cowboys were back on the diamond at Allie Reynolds Stadium Tuesday to start preparing for their trip to Louisville and the best-of-three game Super Regional series with the Cardinals that could send them back to Omaha and the College World Series for the first time since 1999.

The lament of Cowboy fans is that they will not be playing in Stillwater. But these Cowboys have played better away from Stillwater this season. For that reason when the NCAA announced late Monday night they'd have to travel, there wasn't much disappointment.

"A smile came on my face to tell you the truth," said Cowboy leftfielder Ty Wright. "You know we'd love to play here (Allie Reynolds Stadium), but we're kind of the road warriors and just ready to go and play them anywhere.

"We'd play them at a high school field right now. We're excited to be where we are right now. It's not where we want to be, we want to be another step down the line, but we're here right now and excited about the opportunity."

Louisville apparently had a stronger bid than the Cowboys despite a (new) stadiumthat seats about 1,000 less fans than Allie Reynolds. Only the NCAA committee knows for sure, but like his players, head coach Frank Anderson wasn't all that unhappy about packing his bags again.

"I don't think it is disappointing," said Anderson. "We get to play again. There are only 16 people still playing. We have played very well on the road, so we'll go down there and see. Louisville, the way they went down and played at Missouri, is a good club. It won't be easy for us, but we'll go down there and see. I know there won't be as many people there as Arkansas had."

Anderson later added that Missouri, one of the Cowboys' biggest detriments on the diamond this season (OSU was 0-4 vs. Missouri) will now become an ally. Anderson said that Missouri head coach Tim Jamison will help the Cowboys with information they gathered on Louisville and a first-hand report after playing the Cardinals twice in the Columbia Regional. Anderson said he and his staff were still in the midst of gathering information, but one stat really stuck out.

"One guy has stole more bases than we have as a team," said Anderson, referring to UL outfielder Boomer Whiting and his stolen bases. "That's probably the biggest thing. That is a huge deal right there."

Louisville is hitting .311 as a team and starters Isaiah Howes (.392, 16 home runs, 59 RBIs), Whiting (.368), Logan Johnson (.363, 13 home runs, 57 RBIs), Daniel Burton (.310, 7 home runs, 52 RBIs), and Jorge Castillo (.303, 7 home runs, and 55 RBIs) lead the way. Starting pitcher Zack Pitts (9-3, 2.37 ERA) and lefty Justin Marks (8-2, 2.61 ERA) are stout. Reliever Trystan Magnuson is a 6-7 fireballer that has nine saves and a 3-1 record to go with a near spotless 1.02 ERA.

"I kind of checked them out and they are a real quality team," said Wright. "They have some guys that will be able to hit it and some guys that will be able to pitch it and it makes for a real quality series."

If nothing else, the fact that Louisville beat Missouri twice to win the Columbia Regional, including a 16-6 exclamation point-type win on Monday has the Cowboys attention. OSU lost all four meetings they had with Missouri this season. It's a reason for respect, but not intimidation.

"That's baseball, just like they (Missouri) came in and handled us," said Wright. "I mean that happens every weekend and you just have to play one weekend to the next and see what happens."

As much talk as there is about the Cowboy hitting in the Fayetteville Regional, Frank Anderson will credit the pitching, both the bullpen and starter Oliver Odle, who pitched a complete game gem to get OSU started. Odle says he'd like the ball again for Friday's 1 p.m. opener.

"I like having the ball, yes, I really do," said Odle. "It shows that the coach has faith in me and the the team has faith in me, and I like to be out there trying the to set the tone for everything."

Odle, who has a steady approach relying on throwing strikes and allowing his defense to back him up, said he won't change much and really doesn't change a lot for any team he faces.

"Not a whole lot. Obviously, you change it a little bit because you don't want to pitch to their strengths," explained Odle. "Sometimes your game plan might go at their strengths, but you try to change a little bit, but not a whole lot. Ryan (Flavell) knows where my spots are and what I can do, so there are things we're going to do no matter who we're facing."

There won't be a lot of time for sight-seeing in Louisville, a town that offers a lot. Right across the street from the stadium is a sports landmark in Churchill Downs, and one Cowboy says he has an appreciation for the four legged athletes.

"I have become a horse racing fan, but I don't know how much I can be involved with that," said Wright of Louisville being the home of the Kentucky Derby. "In years past I've always watched the Kentucky Derby, so it'll be fun to see where it's held."

I wonder if Wright remembers there was once a Triple Crown winner that won in Louisville by the name of Omaha.

Super Regional Schedule
Friday, June 8: Game 1 at 1 p.m. on ESPN2
Saturday, June 9: Game 2 at 11 a.m. on ESPNU
Sunday, June 10: Game 3 (if necessary) at 3 p.m. on ESPn

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