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OU baseball: After being cut by Texas, Brady Harlan coming up big for Sooners

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Outfielder Brady Harlan has been a welcome addition to the Oklahoma lineup after he was cut by Texas. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]
Outfielder Brady Harlan has been a welcome addition to the Oklahoma lineup after he was cut by Texas. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]

NORMAN — The phone call blindsided Brady Harlan.

Playing summer baseball in North Carolina in the summer of 2016, Harlan’s phone buzzed with a call from new Texas baseball coach David Pierce.

The coach, hired to replace the legendary Augie Garrido in Austin, delivered devastating news.

“We just don’t see a future with you on the team,” Pierce told Harlan.

The news crushed the youngster. Harlan had just finished his freshman season, making 11 starts for the Longhorns.

“I was expecting to get to at least prove myself in the fall, but they didn’t want to see that,” Harlan said. “I wasn’t expecting it, but that’s just life.”

Now, three years later, Harlan has improbably become a big piece in Oklahoma’s outfield as a graduate transfer who still has another season of eligibility remaining after this season.

Harlan and the Sooners are in the Big 12 Tournament, which they’ll open at 4 p.m. Wednesday against Baylor. Pierce’s Longhorns missed the tournament after a last-place finish in the Big 12.

It’s a chapter of Harlan’s baseball career that he never anticipated.

Harlan explored options after Pierce’s call — a transfer, heading to a junior college, etc. But he didn’t want to leave Austin. He enjoyed the environment there and wanted to graduate from Texas.

So instead of pursuing baseball opportunities elsewhere, Harlan decided to step away from the sport and focus on his studies as an exercise science major.

Back home in Corsicana, Texas, last October, another call came. This time, it was a welcome one.

Oklahoma had lost a pair of big-time outfielders from last year’s team — Kyler Murray and Steele Walker — and needed to find some replacements.

Harlan hadn’t so much as picked up a bat or a glove after making his decision nearly three years ago, and he didn’t know what to think when the call from OU coach Skip Johnson came.

But Harlan and his father, Billy, went up to the high school field in Corsicana with father throwing batting practice to the son.

“I was skeptical at first just because it had been so long,” Brady Harlan said. “I just wanted to go hit one time just to see if I could still do it.”

The results were strong.

“It’s still there, so why not?” Harlan thought.

Harlan has found a home in right field for the Sooners of late, hitting .256 with 20 RBI.

“He’s got some big hits for us,” Johnson said. “He’s been a breath of fresh air. He’s dynamic. He’s strong. He’s going to get even better.”

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Wednesday

Game 1: No. 4 West Virginia vs. No. 5 Kansas, 9 a.m. (FCS)

Game 2: No. 1 Texas Tech vs. No. 8 Kansas State, 12:30 p.m. (FCS)

Game 3: No. 2 Baylor vs. No. 7 Oklahoma, 4 p.m. (FCS)

Game 4: No. 3 Oklahoma State vs. No. 6 TCU, 7:30 p.m. (FCS)

Ryan Aber

Ryan Aber has worked for The Oklahoman since 2006, covering high schools, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, the Oklahoma City Barons and OU football recruiting. An Oklahoma City native, Aber graduated from Northeastern State. Before joining The... Read more ›

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