Oklahoma State Cowboys
Overall Rank: #40
Conference Rank: #5 Big 12 Conference
Oklahoma State comes off a season where they returned to the post season after missing the dance in 2010. Last year’s squad was full of talent, as six Cowboys were drafted, and included Big 12 Newcomer of the Year and All-American Zach Johnson. Coach Frank Anderson’s club returns three position starters and six pitchers from last season’s NCAA Tournament squad, and the Cowboys’ recruiting class includes two players who were selected in last June’s Major League Baseball Draft.
2011: 35-25, 14-12
2011 Postseason: NCAA Eliminated in Nashville NCAA regional (losses to Troy and Belmont)
Coach: Frank Anderson, 8th Season
Senior starters Jared Womak, Gabe Weidenaar, Mark Ginther and Bailey Hunter return to anchor the Cowboy defense. Offensive production will be a question as Coach Anderson will need to replace three of his four best offensive players. Top hitter Johnson was drafted, Davis Duren graduated and Dane Phillips transferred to Arkansas. Womak, Weidenaar and Hunter each hit under .300 and showed little pop with just 11 HR’s between them. Ginther, who hit .292 with ten homeruns will be asked to shoulder much of the offensive load.
The Cowboys return six pitchers from last year. Sophomore Andrew Heaney is the only one of the group who won more than three games for Oklahoma St. in 2011. The lefthander was 7-4 with a 4.03 ERA. He struck out 51 in 67 innings of work. The balance of the staff worked primarily out of the bullpen, combining to go 6-7 with eight total starts and one save. Senior Blake Barnes was 3-1 in 23 appearances, working 45 innings. Junior transfer Tyler Nurdin arrives from Temple Junior College and should provide some help on the mound. The 6’3” lefty was drafted by the Indians in 2011.
Who to Watch:
Freshman infielder Zach Fish, state of Michigan high school home run record holder (24) brings needed offense in both average and power. Fish hit .563 in his senior year at Gull Lake High and scored 60 runs. Along with his stick, Fish brings athletic ability and versatility to the Cowboys. He played both shortstop and catcher and has a nice 1.82 pop time. Fish earned numerous awards in high school and was drafted by the Texas Rangers in 2011.
Oklahoma State will need its newcomers and returners to step it up in order to repeat last year’s success. The loss of their best two starters in the rotation and three good hitters leave the Cowboys with little experience and create quite the challenge for Coach Anderson. Youngsters Heaney and Nurdin will need to lead the way on the mound unless the Cowboys get a welcome surprise from last year’s bullpen. Replacing the 20 HR’s and 120 RBIs that moved on will be a tall mountain to climb, but if veterans Womak, Weidenaar, Ginther and Hunter can raise their production and Fish can step in and generate some offense, Oklahoma State has a chance to be competitive in the Big 12 and make it back to the NCAA Tournament.
Projected Postseason: NCAA
At Bats: Mark Ginther, IF, 236
Hits: Mark Ginther, IF, 69
Home Runs: Mark Ginther, IF, 10
RBIs: Jared Womack, C/OF, 46
Runs: Mark Ginther, IF, 40
Stolen Bases: Gabe Weidenaar, UT/RHP, 5; Hunter Bailey, INF, 5
Wins: Andrew Heaney, P, 7
Innings Pitched: Andrew Heaney, P, 67
Strikeouts: Andrew Heaney, P, 51
Saves: Gabe Weidenaar, P, 4
Madness 2012 MLB Draft Rankings:
#111 Andrew Heaney