By JASON ELMQUIST
The change and delay in the Big 12 Conference Baseball Championship in Oklahoma City may make things a little easier for teams to scout.
Now Oklahoma State’s Josh Holliday and his coaching staff know for certain who they will play and in what order with the new pool play format after the tournament was postponed a day and switching from the original double-elimination bracket that was altered due to the tragic tornado that struck Moore.
“You know from a scouting standpoint now you know you’re going to play all the clubs on your side of the bracket, where as before you didn’t know,” Holliday said. “Now you know you need to watch each team closely because you will play them all. ... There is a little bit of certainty about that that is helpful in the scouting and preparation standpoint.”
As far as how the game plan changes with the pitching staff, Holliday said normal Friday starter Jason Hursh will start things off for the Cowboys in the opener against Texas Christian University at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Bricktown Ballpark.
“It won’t change anything in the first game, so we’ll line up (Thursday) and lead Jason off like we have been and keep in rotation,” the first-year OSU coach said. “He’s in good shape, his rest is good, so he’s ready to go. Other than that, we’re just going to see how other guys are feeling and spend a little time looking at the other teams knowing that we’re going to play Kansas in Game 2 and West Virginia in Game 3.”
The postponement has allowed players an extra day of rest. Now, Hursh will have had a full week’s rest between starts — after going Thursday against West Virginia — and will give some guys an extra day of recovery.
“That would probably be the one thing that it does do, is gives the guys that 24 hours back that they weren’t stacked up to get,” Holliday said. “We’ll take the rest any time we can get it this time of year and hopefully keep the kids fresh with that.”
Victor Romero is one of those players the Cowboys have been trying to get healthy again. After sustaining a finger injury at Texas Tech, Romero has been limited in action — playing the final two games of the Bedlam series and missing all of the West Virginia series.
Holliday had said last week that the OSU senior catcher, who was named to the All-Big 12 Second Team, was day-to-day. On Wednesday, he was hopefully for Romero’s return to the lineup.
“He’s improving, so I’m optimistic that they improvements are good, but whether they are good enough, we shall see,” the Cowboy coach said. “But it is still day-to-day and he is improving. So the fact that he is making progress is a good thing and maybe we can find a way to get him back in the mix at some point here in the post-season run.”
The task for Oklahoma State now will be in its first opponents. TCU and Kansas were the only teams to claim a series victory over the Cowboys this season — both teams winning the Friday and Saturday games on back-to-back weekends with OSU on the road.
“You just line up and play. You can’t alter yourself much, you have to be who you are,” Holliday said. “If you change your approach you’ve used all year long, it would be against what we’ve preached. ... You look back on those series and take away from it what you wish, but just because you ran into them once and got the better end of the series doesn’t change your approach. You’ve just got to play good baseball.”