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Oklahoma State Baseball

Cowboy Baseball Learns that COVID isn't Through Killing Sports

April 5, 2021

STILLWATER – The message was plain and simple, issued in a release Monday morning, April 5, 2021 at 9:14 a.m.

Due to COVID-19 issues within the Central Arkansas program, this weekend’s Oklahoma State-UCA series at O’Brate Stadium has been canceled.

Oklahoma State Athletics
O’Brate Stadium may be empty this upcoming weekend because of COVID-19.

OSU is currently not scheduled to return to action until Tuesday, April 13, when it hosts Oral Roberts, but the Cowboys are actively pursuing an opponent and games for the upcoming weekend.

It seems that COVID-19 isn’t through disrupting athletics. The team at Central Arkansas shouldn’t be ashamed or feel guilty. COVID-19 is indiscriminate. Don’t get me wrong because there are protocols that you can adopt and make habit that will give you a better chance of keeping the virus out of your team’s bubble. Oklahoma State teams have done that really well throughout the school year. However, you don’t think that professional athletes where millions of dollars are on the line and lots of zeros are in the paychecks, yet the Washington Nationals had to sit out the opening weekend of Major League Baseball. The Montreal Canadiens of the NHL have reportedly half their team positive for COVID-19.

Pokes Report
Lots of fans the stands in Lubbock to see Cowboys at Texas Tech.

Oklahoma State baseball has seen the ups and the downs of COVID-19 very recently. On their conference opening road trip to Lubbock, the Cowboys saw a state where the Governor has opened thing up. Just like the Texas Rangers played before a full house on Monday afternoon against the Toronto Blue Jays, the Red Raiders that weekend sold all the tickets they could and Friday and Saturday the ballpark was mostly full.

Back at home these past two weekends with Kansas State and West Virginia, O’Brate Stadium has been 25 percent and socially spaced. As of now, it appears there may not be anybody in the ballpark this coming weekend. It’s a bad time for that because the Cowboys are on a roll, winning five of their last six Big 12 games and winning six of their last seven.

The most recent win was 21-11 by run rule on Saturday with West Virginia. The Cowboys, who had a team batting average just a few weeks ago hovering around .230 are now hitting .253 as a team and climbing. In the West Virginia series the Pokes had 31 runs on 36 hits with seven doubles, three home runs, and 19 walks. Those 19 free base runners make a big difference.

Bruce Waterfield/OSU Athletics
Morrill had a huge the day at the plate on Saturday vs. WYU.

“One good performance can definitely fuel another good performance. We’re just going to try to build on this performance going into the next games. We’re trying to do the little things right,” shortstop Hueston Morrill, who had a huge game going 4-of-5 with a home run and five RBIs on Saturday. “I felt like it was bound to happen at some point. We were putting good swings on the ball and just knew it would come at some point. Our goal is to keep putting up good ABs and getting it to the next guy.”

Another Cowboy that had a good weekend was Christian Encanacion-Strand, so good that the Big 12 named him the Big 12 Player of the Week. Earlier this season he was the Big 12 Newcomer of the Week. He has been consistent with extra base hits but now he is hitting for average as well. 

Oklahoma State Athletics
Encanacion Strand is Big 12 Player of the Week.

He went 8-for-16 at the plate and tallied a Big 12-best 10 RBIs in leading the Pokes to a midweek win over Oklahoma and a series win against West Virginia. The hot hitting saw Encarnacion-Strand extend his hitting streak to 10 games, the longest by a Cowboy this season, and he drove in runs in all four contests to bring his team-leading season RBI total to 30.

In the West Virginia series, Encarnacion-Strand went 7-for-13 (.538) with a home run and nine RBIs, and he drove in four runs in each of the final two games to lead OSU to a series win. In the second game of the series, he had three hits, including a grand slam, to lift the Cowboys to a 7-2 win, and he followed that with a 2-for-4, four-RBI effort in the series-clinching finale.

The Cowboys are pulling things together at a great time and are 6-3 in Big 12 play and 18-7-1 overall, so you could see why head coach Josh Holliday would rather not miss an entire week and weekend of playing baseball, at least playing some outside competition.

The absence of a midweek game was planned. The Cowboys were going to get some rest and work on some trouble spots, but the weekend was baseball that Holliday wanted for his starters and to get a few other guys off the bench involved. 

Due to COVID-19 that plan is in jeopardy. If the Nationals continue to have problems the Los Angeles Dodgers are scheduled to play them this weekend in L.A. The Dodgers might be more than the Cowboys want. 


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Cowboy Baseball Learns that COVID isn't Through Killing Sports

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