Oklahoma State can look back at being swept by Texas Tech during the regular season and perhaps crack a grin.
It’s miserable to drop three games in a Big 12 series. That’s what happened to the Cowboys during a trip to Lubbock, Texas, in late April. They were on the wrong side of the scoreboard in 12-4, 10-2 and 5-2 defeats.
Since that weekend, OSU has won 14 of 17 games and now returns to Texas Tech for an NCAA Super Regional series.
The winner of the best-of-3 series earns a trip to the College World Series. First pitch is 2 p.m. Friday. The Saturday and Sunday (if necessary) games start at 5 p.m.
In hindsight, the first trip to Texas Tech was an important learning experience for Josh Holliday’s team.
“The trip out here was definitely one of those weekends where we came away from it with a good idea of things we could get better at, a sense of urgency about making those adjustments, and then to compliment our players, the way they handled it and responded to it,” the OSU coach said Thursday.
“It’s just part of your season. It’s part of the great challenges that Big 12 baseball presents, and it’s also part of why I believe if you can survive our conference week in, week out, you’ll be prepared for just about anything you’re going to see when it comes time to face the whole country. Just another lesson in the season, and we played better, we grew from it.”
The Cowboys headed to Oregon State the following weekend and swept a three-game series against the defending national champion. That set the foundation for a Big 12 Tournament championship and an Oklahoma City Regional title last weekend.
“Definitely a turning point, for sure, because any time you get beat, you’ve got to see what your response is, and if your response is correct, you have a chance to move forward, and if your response is not positive, then, yeah, you could find yourself going the wrong direction,” Holliday said. “So our kids just responded well to being challenged.
“But I mean, if you play and coach long enough, there’s some games you run into someone, they play well and you’ve got to tip your cap to them and say, ‘They were better than me today,’ and you’ve got to work on cleaning up your game and improving so that you can be better next time out. That’s the way we viewed the season and certainly some of the big series and great challenges we faced during the season.”
The Cowboys (39-19) have played their past 14 games in the state of Oklahoma (Stillwater, Tulsa, Norman and Oklahoma City).
Often when a school makes a Super Regional, it has to study a new opponent. This weekend, there’s plenty of knowledge between the programs.
“I’ve never been one to get too caught up in a lot of that stuff,” Holliday said. “I think from a familiarity standpoint, it’s unique that you play a team that you’re quite familiar with, but at the same time it’s the way it lines up, and so we embrace the opportunity to play.”