Oklahoma State hosted its 2016 media day Friday and the Cowboys discussed their excitement for the upcoming season. Yesterday the Pokes were picked second in the Big 12's preseason coaches poll.
Head coach Josh Holliday
On his excitement for the start of the season:
"There's no question there's excitement. I think particularly for this group of kids, the familiarity they hold with one another is something special that takes time to build, but once it's there you see some pretty strong bonds across the board with these kids. Their overall work ethic is outstanding. I have to say very little things to this team about many things because they all ready know what's expected, and they show up every day and do it. They do it well and it allows us to hopefully coach and teach other areas, elevate younger players and try to take our program to another level."
On the number of position battles the team has:
"I think every day has tremendous value for every guy, whether it's a position battle or self-confidence boosting moment. When you look at a team and ways a lineup can shift for multiple players to be ready at positions, for instance catcher or places where we're going to put stress on our bodies, you're going to need a number of players ready to play whether you start or come off the bench you. We have a number of players who have worked hard and deserve a chance to play so I think there's tons of value to what's happening every day. We saw last year, we came out opening day and lost our starting shortstop to an injury. Immediately it thrust a different rotation of our infield. I think we still have a couple of spots where guys are pushing pretty hard. Second base is a spot that coming out of the fall I thought there's still an open door there, and I think kids are doing a good job of pushing each day there. The backup catching job and just how we're going to use quality athletes across the outfield and DH spot. Still a lot of competition. I told the players these jobs aren't owned, they're rented. If you fail to pay rent each day, someone might move in on you. We wake up every day and try to work and put the work in."
On the catching position:
"We lost two very committed veteran kids in Bryan Case and Gage Green. They were really strong. But I like what we have. Collin Theroux is a junior college transfer who brings a lot to the table. He has strong leadership characteristics about him for the position that is very important. Then we have two freshmen behind him in Colin Simpson and Baylor Rowlett. Both kids can do some things well, it's just a matter of consistency as freshmen. Learning to catch an upper-level pitching staff like we have right — righties and lefties and velocity and breaking balls and thing — they've not see the ball do as much at the lower level so they're learning that as we go. Definitely a position over the last two seasons between Bryan and Gage, I think they caught all but six outs of those two seasons, so certainly replacing their leadership and their experience is something this team is doing. But I think they're prepared for that."
On the value of experience and leadership:
"I think they instantly help the newcomers understand what the standards look like. They allow us to run in a way that there's communication and encouragement and stability. Those things are really important. It allows you as a coach to go, ‘Okay, things are going pretty good, I might focus time over here on this piece of the group.’ Experience allows you to pickup where you left off with kids."
On being picked second in the Big 12 Conference:
"They think someone else is better than us so I guess we better do some work. I don't really have much thought on it. I don't pay much attention to any of that stuff. It's preseason. It's fun for dialogue, it gives people something to talk about. As far as does it mean anything, it means nothing. It's all about what you do when you actually play. I think others recognized we have some kids coming back that they respect. I think that's what preseason recognition is about."
Senior outfielder Corey Hassel
On starting the season:
"I'm really excited. The past eight months have been a long time coming. I think this team has put in the time and the work, and we're really excited for the start of the season."
On this year's team:
"We have a lot of good friendships on this team. Everybody is really cohesive and wants to see the team succeed. Everybody is willing to do anything that it takes to get there. That's one really big positive about this team."
On being ranked second in the Big 12 preseason poll:
"It feels good to have people notice you, but at the same time we're always going to have a chip on our shoulders. We know what we have, and we know how to compete. At the end of the day, whatever happens, I know that this team is going to give its best effort."
Junior pitcher Remey Reed
"It's crazy exciting. It's getting closer and closer everyday. We're trying to work on things one day at a time, and hopefully it gets here as fast as possible."
On being a veteran on the team:
"Once you get here, it's a family-like atmosphere. You don't feel unwelcome or like a new guy when you walk in. You're an important guy on this team whether you're a freshman or a senior. As long as it feels like a family atmosphere and you want to compete for each other, you're going to do well on the field and play to the best of your abilities."
On being ranked second in the Big 12 preseason poll:
"We're expected to do a lot, but at the same time, we're not trying to look at standings and rankings. We just try to take it day-by-day and game-by-game and let it work itself out."
Junior pitcher Trey Cobb
On getting the season started:
"We're definitely looking forward to playing in front of these great fans again in this awesome stadium."
On preparing for the season:
"I'm just looking forward to getting in the flow of the season. When you're in the offseason, you really don't know what you're going to do the next day. When you're in the season, though, you have the same routine every day. The routine and playing in front of the fans here is what I'm really looking forward to."
Outfielder Ryan Sluder
"It's on my mind. That's the goal, not only Omaha, but a national championship. That's what we're here for. That's what every team in the country is trying to do. Right now, though, we're just trying to take things pitch-by-pitch and day-by-day. You have to set a goal but know what you need to do each day to get there."
On offseason workouts:
"I've been hitting the ball the other way, the mental aspects of the game and some defensive things like making some throws and simple things that people don't really look at like hitting the cut-off man."
On mental preparation:
"I'm trying to stay more mentally balanced. I try to play the game like it's two different games — one offense and one defense. Obviously you hit and then you go to defense, but if you think of it like you're going to play defense and once you're done with defense you go to offense. Once you're done with offense, onto the field. I'm just trying to think of those as two different games and playing both the best I can pitch-by-pitch."
On modeling his game after the pros:
"I love Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates. One of the reasons is that both of our hands are low and when we stride at the ball we have similarities. I love his speed and his love for the game. He's passionate, and he has fun. You can tell that, yeah it's his career, he's getting paid and that's what he does, but at the same time he's just out there having fun playing the game he loves."