OSU baseball: Andrew Navigato bolsters Cowboys with home runs, infield play
STILLWATER — Josh Holliday needed players to fill the spaces on the left side of the infield.
Holliday, the Oklahoma State baseball coach, turned to a junior college recruit who had never visited Oklahoma.
Andrew Navigato, a junior transfer from California’s Cuesta Community College, quickly fit into the lineup. He has become a fixture in the No. 23-ranked Cowboys’ defense and has boosted their offense with a team-high seven home runs.
“I’m just trying to stick with my approach,” Navigato said.
To start Big 12 play, he and his teammates swept Kansas State and won a road series against TCU 2-1.
After a nonconference loss to Central Arkansas, the Cowboys (18-9 overall, 5-1 Big 12) are striving to claim their third straight Big 12 series when they face West Virginia at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium. The games are set for 6:05 p.m. Friday, 2:05 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday.
Navigato, like former Cowboy Matt Kroon, is making an impact as a community college transfer during his first season in Stillwater. Kroon, who often played shortstop during the past season, joined the Philadelphia Phillies organization, and third baseman Michael Neustifter transferred to South Carolina’s North Greenville University before the 2019 season. Without Kroon and Neustifter on the roster, Holliday has shifted Navigato between shortstop and third base. Navigato often plays alongside Max Hewitt or Christian Funk, returning players, on the left side of the infield.
Navigato attended Riverside Polytechnic High School in California and said he hadn’t spent much time outside his home state before he visited OSU in June. Although Holliday said Navigato retains his California style with his clothes and shoes, his teammates have introduced him to Oklahoma staples.
Navigato traded the West Coast beaches for Braum’s. Joe Lienhard, a senior pitcher from Wichita, Kansas, said Navigato hadn’t heard of the Oklahoma-based restaurant chain when he arrived in Stillwater.
“He’s in love with Braum’s now,” Lienhard said.
Navigato said when he walked in the locker room on his first day as a Cowboy, his teammates immediately greeted and accepted him. He said he learns from Colin Simpson, a senior catcher/infielder, about experiences such as playing in the College World Series.
Navigato will have a chance to receive advice from a Cowboy legend this weekend. Pete Incaviglia, who holds the NCAA career home-run record with 100, will sign posters before the Saturday game and throw the first pitch at the Sunday game against WVU (17-11, 2-4).
“I can’t wait to meet the best hitter in college baseball,” Navigato said. “Get to talk to him, pick his brain a little bit.”
As Navigato absorbs knowledge and grows, Holliday said he appreciates the characteristics that make him unique.
“He just needs to keep being himself,” Holliday said. “…When he’s in his mode and doing his thing, he’s been a good part of our team. When we’ve been in a good rhythm, he’s been a big part of it.”
WEST VIRGINIA AT OSU
When: 6:05 p.m., Friday; 2:05 p.m., Saturday; noon, Sunday
Where: Allie P. Reynolds Stadium, Stillwater