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OSU baseball: Cowboys traveling a happy road toward hosting an NCAA regional

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Oklahoma State's Trevor Boone, left, celebrates with Joe Lienhard after hitting a home run in the sixth inning of the Cowboys' 5-2 win over TCU on Wednesday in the Big 12 Tournament at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]
Oklahoma State's Trevor Boone, left, celebrates with Joe Lienhard after hitting a home run in the sixth inning of the Cowboys' 5-2 win over TCU on Wednesday in the Big 12 Tournament at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma State baseball coach Josh Holliday doesn’t want his team worrying about the big picture.

NCAA Tournament seeds or the opportunity to host a regional — those things will work themselves out.

Holliday wants his players focused on the little things they’re experiencing at the moment, like the half-joking goal of playing for the off-day at the Big 12 Tournament.

By winning Wednesday’s and Thursday’s games, the Cowboys earned the right to relax on Friday, awaiting their next opponent for a 12:30 p.m. game Saturday at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark. They’ll face either Baylor or TCU, needing one win to advance to Sunday’s title game.

Holliday had an idea — or several ideas — about what his players might do with a free day.

“They’ll come over and watch a game. They’ll go watch a movie. They’ll go eat. They’ll sleep. They’ll look at their phones all day,” Holliday said. “They’ll have fun, and they’ve earned that. That’s part of what makes them tick, and I’m cool with that.”

Those are the things he wants his players to enjoy, rather than focusing on rankings or RPI or where they’ll be a week from now.

At least for now, Holliday’s method is paying off. The Cowboys look like a team having fun on the field, with only four losses in the last 17 games, spanning more than five weeks.

The pitching staff, led by Jensen Elliott and Parker Scott, appears to be peaking at the right time, and the power hitters are going strong, too. Trevor Boone hit his 19th home run Wednesday night, and Colin Simpson has homered in four straight games.

After a pair of ugly losses at Kansas April 13-14, OSU was on the outside of the top 25, but since, they’ve moved up to No. 11 in D-I Baseball’s top 25. OSU’s RPI ranks seventh.

A home regional next week seems like a near certainty. A strong finish at the Big 12 Tournament could have the Cowboys on the bubble for a top-eight seed, guaranteeing home-field advantage through the super-regional round.

But Holliday doesn’t want his players’ thoughts getting that far ahead of the current moment. And the coach’s theory isn’t just about trying to keep them focused on winning baseball games.

“I try to talk to them about enjoying each other and staying focused on this time that they’ve earned,” Holliday said. “Not getting caught up with some of the chatter that can come into their lives, whether it be off-the-field stuff, the draft, all the different things that are going on in these kids’ lives.

“I beg them to enjoy being together and stay in the moment, because 30 days, 40 days from now, you never get to go back and redo this. So do it right while you have a chance.”

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BIG 12 TOURNAMENT

OSU VS. BAYLOR/TCU

When: 12:30 p.m., Saturday

Where: Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark

TV: FSOK (Cox 37)/FCS (Cox 271)

Radio: KSPI-FM 93.7

Scott Wright

A lifelong resident of the Oklahoma City metro area, Scott Wright has been on The Oklahoman staff since 2005, covering a little bit of everything on the state's sports scene. He has been a beat writer for football and basketball at Oklahoma and... Read more ›

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