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OSU baseball: New faces, big-name coaches and O'Brate Stadium highlight storylines for Cowboys' season

Oklahoma State'ss Brett Standlee throws a pitch against West Virginia last season. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman]
Oklahoma State'ss Brett Standlee throws a pitch against West Virginia last season. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman]

STILLWATER — Oklahoma State’s baseball season opens with a three-game series beginning Friday in Phoenix at Grand Canyon University.

Here’s a look at three storylines for OSU’s 2020 season:

High expectations

The Cowboys have a lot of new faces, yet expectations for a big season remain high after falling six outs shy of the College World Series last season.

Outfielders Carson McCusker and Cade Cabiness return alongside first baseman Alix Garcia and shortstop Hueston Morrill to form the core of the lineup. Lefty Parker Scott is back to top the rotation alongside workhorse Brett Standlee and closer Ben Leeper.

Last season, the Cowboys hit 93 home runs. But a lot of the big boppers are gone. So, expect more of a contact-first lineup, cutting down on strikeouts.

“We just want to hit the ball hard,” OSU coach Josh Holliday said. “And then we do have some guys that are that are strong enough to hit some home runs.”

But the optimism starts with the new guys.

Deer Creek product Kaden Polcovich is a switch-hitting infielder who has impressed all around. LSU transfer Brock Mathis is stable behind the plate. Freshmen pitchers Bryce Osmond and Justin Campbell will also open in the starting rotation. Even Westmoore product Kale Davis will take the mound as a starter.

New coaches, old faces

OSU fans might have their focus on the coaching staff as much as the players. It’s hard to blame them.

The Cowboys have two former MLB stars on staff this season — Matt Holliday as the hitting coach and Robin Ventura as a student assistant

“They both have such a great life experience inside of the game at so many different levels,” Josh Holliday said. “And both played it at such a high level that they have just tremendous credibility with the kids when it comes to some of the cool conversations that I've already heard occur between them.”

Matt Holliday — before he starred for the Colorado Rockies, Oakland A’s and St. Louis Cardinals — grew up in Stillwater. He never played at OSU, though, instead entering the MLB Draft.

Ventura is coming home. He is regarded of one of college baseball’s all-time best — and he did it in orange and black. But now he’s back as an undergraduate student volunteering as a coach. It’s quite a change for a former All-Star and manager.

O’Brate Stadium finally unveiled

Don’t forget about Allie P. Reynolds Stadium just yet.

It still stands. It still has games scheduled.

But in a little more than a month, the Cowboys will have a new home. On March 20, OSU unveils O’Brate Stadium, a $75 million project, in a big series against Big 12 opponent TCU.

Work began early in 2018 on the state-of-the-art stadium, which features a 2,000-square foot video board, 3,500 permanent seats, 11 suites and 400 premium seats in club and suite areas. Seating can be expanded to 8,000 as needed as well.

“Once you get inside it, you’ll see what the excitement is all about,” Josh Holliday said.

Jacob Unruh, Staff writer

Jacob Unruh

Jacob Unruh is a graduate of Northeastern State University. He was born in Cherokee and raised near Vera where he attended Caney Valley High School.During his tenure at NSU, Unruh wrote for The Northeastern (NSU's student newspaper), the... Read more ›

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