OSU baseball: Lineup flexibility makes Cowboys dangerous
STILLWATER — Twenty-two games into the season, Oklahoma State baseball coach Josh Holliday is still trying to find the right combinations on his lineup card.
That isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
“We’re still working our way through maybe our best lineup against a tough lefty, our best lineup against a tough righty, then how to use our players effectively across a three-game series,” Holliday said.
Entering Tuesday night’s non-conference home game against Oklahoma (6:35 p.m., Fox Sports Oklahoma), Holliday has only twice repeated the batting order from a previous game.
Nowhere has Holliday’s flexibility been shown like it has been at catcher, where Colin Simpson and Bryce Carter have split time.
Simpson has been the Cowboys primary catcher over the last two seasons, but this season he’s splitting time with Carter, the graduate transfer from Stanford.
A season ago, Simpson started 43 games behind the plate including the last 12.
“He was an iron man for us,” Holliday said. “The guy caught about every pitch for the last five or six weeks. That’s tough to do especially when the temperatures get warmer, your playing tournament ball and a couple doubleheaders in there.”
Holliday hopes the split will help keep Simpson fresh offensively late in the season.
“In years past, we’ve had to ride Colin a little harder than you would like, especially knowing what an excellent offensive player he is,” Holliday said. “Sometimes you wear your catcher down and rely on him to also swing the bat in the middle of the order, that’s a lot on one kid.”
Simpson has started nine games behind the plate and six each at designated hitter and in left field.
Holliday’s lineup flexibility also shows itself on the corners.
At first, Christian Funk has started the majority of the time, but Alix Garcia has five starts there, including each of the last two.
On the other side, Andrew Navigato has 15 starts at third while Funk has started five times there and Max Hewitt twice.
“That was something going into this season that I thought we would definitely try out,” Holliday said of moving corner infielders around, adding that the makeup of Big 12 pitching made it a priority. “Knowing that a tough lefty’s definitely out there each and every weekend, you want to have an answer for that.”
After an uneven start, Oklahoma State has won nine of its last 12.
“Some years you feel like you know exactly what to expect, and other years you’re a little bit excited to see how things take shape, and some years you don’t know,” Holliday said. “This year I was excited to see how things take shape.”
No. 22 OKLAHOMA (21-4) at OKLAHOMA STATE (15-7)
When: 6:35 p.m., Tuesday
Where: Allie P. Reynolds Stadium, Stillwater
TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma
Radio: KSPI-FM 93.7 (OSU), KREF-AM 1400 / FM 99.3 (OU)