STILLWATER — The Oklahoma State baseball team, which finished as the runner-up in the Big 12 Conference tournament over the weekend, will travel to Tucson, Arizona, for the NCAA baseball tournament.
The Cowboys, who are ranked No. 14 in the RPI, were given the second seed in the Tucson Regional, which will be hosted by No. 5 overall seed Arizona.
OSU will open the regional against UC Santa Barbara, with the game scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday, and will be streamed on ESPN3.
“When you get to this point in the year, you have to be courageous to go beat really good teams if you really want to play for something,” Cowboy baseball coach Josh Holliday said. “… Kind of excited for kids in the program to get a chance to see a destination that we haven’t seen before – that creates some excitement and intrigue in their hearts and minds of going somewhere new.”
Oklahoma State has only lost three of its last 13 games since losing the Bedlam series at the start of May. OSU beat Big 12 regular season champion Texas in the Big 12 semifinals to reach Sunday’s tournament title game, which they lost to TCU, 10-7.
“I’m very proud of our team in the way we finished, the way we competed so fiercely through some of the challenges of the season,” Holliday said. “Really appreciate the character of our group.”
The Tucson Regional has been paired with the Oxford Regional being hosted by No. 12-seeded Ole Miss. The winner of each regional will square off in a super regional.
There is a little familiarity within the regional Oklahoma State is headed to.
Grand Canyon, which will be the four seed and face Arizona in the first round, played in Stillwater earlier this year with the Cowboys winning the first two games and the finale ending in a tie due to travel curfew.
“It takes a lot of time to prepare for a team, and we’ve prepared for Grand Canyon prior to and then have the date of three games against them, so we do have familiarity there,” Holliday said.
“If we look back, they left here and went on a heck of a run, played great baseball the remainder of the year.”
Arizona’s baseball stadium presents itself a unique location for baseball teams.
Hi Corbett Field has a spacious playing field, with a lot of available foul territory, as well as deep power alleys. Straight-away center measures at 392 feet, while the left-center stretches out to 410 feet and right-center at 405 feet.
“I think it’s an offensive ballpark, and I think that’s a place where we can be dangerous, as well,” Holliday said.
While the dimensions may benefit the Cowboy offense, they aren’t as worried about the flip side of things.
With outfielders Caeden Trenkle, Carson McCusker and Cade Cabbiness on patrol – having combined for 252 putouts – they feel good about their ability to manage the spacious ballpark.
“I do think we cover ground really well,” Cabbiness said. “We can cover a lot of ground, a lot of space to go make plays. I think it’s a good place for us as an outfield as a whole.”
Beyond the ballpark, Holliday also talked about the difference playing baseball in Arizona will be compared to playing in the Great Plains – with all of OSU’s games this year being played within Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Texas.
“You’re going out to the desert where it’s light air, harder, faster grass,” Holliday said. “I coached at Arizona State for a few years, Coach (Marty) Lees was in the Pac-12 and Matt (Holliday) played at Hi Corbett back as a player for the Rockies, so we know the field and the area and the nature of those elements pretty good.”