Oklahoma State’s Alix Garcia (42) celebrates a home run with Cade Cabbiness (15) in the 5th inning during the Oklahoma City Regional NCAA baseball game between Oklahoma State University (OSU) and UConn at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City, Monday, June 3, 2019. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma State’s sting from a Super Regional exit will last for a while

But it’s not just the elimination loss to Texas Tech that will linger. It’s losing the day-to-day ties among teammates who were in lockstep toward a College World Series goal.

The solace is that they have memories that will last a lifetime.

“I’m not here sitting here telling you that we’re not real disappointed that we’re not still playing, because we are,” OSU coach Josh Holliday said. “But there also has to be a realness about the relationships and the things that you felt along the way. And there is. It would be hollow if you had a successful season without great relationships. Even if you come up a little short, you can still look back and be proud if your relationships and your commitment was strong.

“I think that’s probably the thing that this group learned. If you can be all in on what you’re doing and love it and take care of each other, then you experienced true team. True team is something that, once you have it, you always want that. You always want to be a part of it again, and that’s what these kids understand.”

The Cowboys finished with a 40-21 record and captured their second Big 12 championship in three seasons. They were one inning from advancing to the College World Series for the second time in four years.

The high expectation level has remained since Holliday was named coach in 2013.

There are plenty of reasons for the team’s success over the past seven years.

OSU has won with “small ball.” The program has been a power-hitting bunch (93 home runs in 2019, the program’s most in 20 years). The staff has kept a high standard under veteran pitching coach Rob Walton.

And then there’s just the Cowboy way.

“When we set out to do this, we wanted to build a program that would be traditional in that it would mean something to people to play here and they would feel a sense of responsibility to the traditions and brotherhood that they had seen come before them,” Holliday said. “How they treat each other, how they conduct themselves, how they behave, how they represent us, and, more importantly, their relationship with their alma mater to leave here and always care about it.

“When you get the text messages and the support we had from our past players this year – and I share them with the team all the time – how proud those former players are because they’re watching as they’re seeing in these kids the things that they were taught. You have a program that has a chance to grow because now it’s being passed along in that locker room … if you can get that going, and it takes time, then you can build a tradition that people become very protective of. And I think we’re taking positive steps to making this something that anyone who touches it is going to protect.”

Tradition will have a new home in 2020.

O’Brate Stadium will be opened next season. The $60 million venue has 3,500 permanent seats and can expand to 8,000 seats if needed. There will be 13 suites and 400 premium seats.

There will be a large clubhouse and operations center including an indoor facility, pitching lab and practice infield.

Holliday is focused on preparing the first OSU team to play in the stadium. He said the transition will be fun, but also a lot of work.

“The gains that can be made in the summer are big. The quality of the incoming class of recruits is exciting. There are some very special players and talents that are coming to campus that are highly invested in being at Oklahoma State,” the OSU coach said.

“You know we’re going to train like crazy through the summer months that the kids are in summer school. We are going to lift weights like we always have and then, come fall when instructional stuff starts back up again, we’re going to be ready. From there the excitement of moving into that facility will be incredible.”

He’s already focusing on 2020 team leaders like outfielders Carson McCusker and Cade Cabbiness. Infielders Hueston Morrill and Alix Garcia will take command. The pitching staff has strong arms returning with Parker Scott, Brett Standlee, Ben Leeper and Mitchell Stone.

“I am excited about the future. I’m proud of the kids that have moved on to professional baseball. I’m thrilled for the kids that are coming back for a senior year because I think your senior year can be a magical year of your life. I know it was for me,” Holliday said. “And you just go from there. It’s just the nature of college athletics, kind of the ‘who’s next’ mentality.

“And you know I just can’t wait to dive back in with these guys and see who’s next.”

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Eric Bailey



Twitter: @ericbaileyTW

Sports Writer

Eric covers the University of Oklahoma football and men’s basketball teams. A Haskell Indian Nations University graduate, he has been a member of the Tulsa World sports staff for 12 years. Phone: 918-581-8391