2018-19. Was it the year of the stadium? Of bat-flips? Of so-close-but-so-far? Let’s take a look at the highlights from one of the more, let’s say, eclectic seasons in the history of Oklahoma State Athletics.
On August 19, I had the opportunity to have lunch with Cowgirl Soccer Associate Head Coach Karen Hancock, and her father-in-law, Executive Director of the College Football Playoff, Bill Hancock.
Neal Patterson Stadium, the gaudy soccer facility that sits along Hall of Fame Ave., replacing the less than desirable Cowgirl Soccer Complex was finally set to open. So I asked Coach Hancock,
“How long have you been waiting for this day?”
“20 years,” she deftly responded.
Hancock was set to begin her 20th season on the pitch with the Cowgirls.
The soccer game, although a great Bedlam win to open the athletic year for Oklahoma State was overshadowed by the pure grandeur of the stadium. The OSU-lifers couldn’t believe our eyes. Finally, we could have regular restrooms, and concession stands! No longer would we have to look at the sun for the first hour of the Friday night games. Finally, the press would enjoy a real press box instead of one that used to sit at old Cowgirl Field, the former home of the Oklahoma State Softball team. (That’s another story for another day though). Cowgirl FC went on to have a rather solid season finishing 10-7-1. A much needed improvement for one of Oklahoma State’s most consistently good teams.
POP QUIZ! What OSU quarterback holds the record for most touchdown passes in a bowl game?
Brandon Weeden? Nope. Good guess.
Mason Rudolph? Try again.
… Taylor Cornelius? Bingo! The ol’ Corndog is in the record books with 4 TD passes in the Liberty Bowl. (Thanks to OSU communications intern Liam Ervin for bringing that one to my attention).
The Cowpunchers from Stillwater opened the 2018 season with a 58-17 walloping of the Missouri State Bears and a 55-13 embarrassment of the South Alabama Jags. Then, came the Broncos from Boise State, what was set to be the premier game of the season inside the “clownbox” (I still LOL at that by the way) confines of Boone Pickens Stadium. The Cowboys cruised to a 44-21 victory, in front of a whole lot of fans in blue. Props to the Boise State fans, they traveled well.
Oklahoma State welcomed Tech to town, in what would turn out to be Kliff’s final game at Boone Pickens Stadium. The Cowboys lost 44-17 and the sky felt like it fell, no, shattered, to the ground.
After Tech, the Cowboys faced some reprieve in Northeast Kansas beating up on the Jayhawks 48-28. That was my first trip to “LFK” as the cool kids like to call it and it won’t be my last. One of the most unique atmospheres I’ve ever seen in college football. The fans that do show up (about 20,000 of ’em) really like their team, have a solid tailgating scene, and get pretty loud. I’d recommend going to a football game in Lawrence. It’s something every Big 12 football fan should experience, in a weird way.
The Pokes went on to lose to the best football team Iowa State has ever fielded, scored 12 points in a loss against Kansas State and then, there was homecoming.
Oklahoma State beat almighty Texas on homecoming night, primetime, ABC football, complete with Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit doing television from the roof of BPS. A near fight broke out toward the end of the game, but it will go down in Boone Pickens Stadium lore.
The Cowboys finished the season with a one-point Bedlam loss, a four point win against West Virginia, and a loss to TCU in Fort Worth.
Then came the Liberty Bowl. (See above).
I’ve never seen a team have such a bad season, yet get unmatched support from their fans. Ever. After a few Cowboys got into some nefarious activity, OK State was short three men. The roster ended with eight scholarship players, and seven walk-ons. The Cowboys held open tryouts in the middle of the season. Now that’s saying something.
Perhaps the two most memorable games of the Cowboy basketball season were the two that should have been the most forgettable.
In February, the Pokes made the trip to Allen Fieldhouse in front of an always sold out 16K+ crowd.
So did I. It was awesome. They use every square-inch of that gym to get everyone they can in there, and it’s incredible. Go see a game at Allen Fieldhouse, you won’t regret it.
But, back to what matters, the team.
The Cowboys and The Jayhawks were tied at the half 36-36. OSU eventually got tired and lost by 12.
The Cowboys made a Wednesday night trip to LBK to face the Red Raiders, and, OSU wasn’t messing around. Just watch the highlights for yourself.
Oklahoma State couldn’t quite pull off the win, but I can guarantee you, every single guy on that team will remember the game for the rest of their lives.
Oklahoma State missed any postseason berth (outside the Big 12 tournament), but had a season for the books nonetheless.
Allie P. Reynolds Stadium is pretty easily the worst college baseball park in the Power 5. 2019 would be it’s swan-song. Stillwaterites have watched the construction of O’Brate Stadium grow like a weed. It’s been incredible and I can’t imagine the types of teams Josh Holliday and co. are going to pump out of that beautiful ballpark.
Once Spring Break rolled around, I’m not so sure many OSU fans thought OSU was going to a regional, let alone host one. The pre-SB season featured losses to UTRGV, Wright State and Southeastern LA.
Oklahoma State began spring break with a clean sweep of Kansas State, and upheld the tradition of beating OU in baseball.
Then the Cowboys took two of three from TCU. Things looked good.
Until WVU came to town. The Mountaineers came to Stillwater and crashed the party with outrageously good pitching led by ace Alek Manoah.
But the bleakness changed when the Cowboys made the long trip to Corvallis, OR and swept the Beavers on their home turf. Oregon State hadn’t lost a series at home, let alone get swept, in years … before Oklahoma State came to town. Suddenly, the college baseball world had their eyes on the interlocking OS.
O-State hit 12 bombs in a record-breaking 27-6 win over Kansas, swept Texas, and took two from Baylor.
Oh, they also beat OU for the fourth and fifth time of the year.
Oklahoma State hosted the Oklahoma City regional with Nebraska, UCONN and Harvard.
And, who could forget the highlight of the season? The Boone Bomb.
Oklahoma State oddly played Texas Tech in a super regional and lost two of three.
The Cowboys finished the season second, to Indiana, in home runs hit.
Bat Flips & Twitter. Kenny G. The Outfield. Bedlam. The WCWS. There’s so much to be said about Cowgirl Softball 2019.
So let’s start with the obvious.
Cowgirl Softball was officially put on notice. One of the personalities on ESPN’S 7Innings Podcast said that Show’s bat flips weren’t appropriate until they made it to the World Series.
And that they did.
The Cowgirls took two of three from Texas, (who oddly enough received a nine seed in the NCAA’s after losing to Iowa State in the Big 12 tournament …) and swept Texas Tech in three comeback wins.
The Sooners, on the other hand, were just too much for the Cowgirls in 2019. The mighty fightin’ Gasso’s beat Oklahoma State in all four of their meetings.
The NCAA awarded Oklahoma State with a regional for the first time in 21 years, where they took all three games that they played.
The Cowgirls flew to Tallahassee, FL where they faced the defending National Champions. The Cowgirls eliminated the ‘Noles, in the most OSU softball way they could in 2019.
Oklahoma State opened the WCWS with Florida, where Head Coach Kenny Gajewski won two national championships with the Gators.
The Cowgirls went toe-to-toe with, and beat, legendary pitcher Kelly Barnhill who threw countless illegal pitches that never got called.
In college softball, the pitcher is not allowed to lift their “drag” or back foot when they make their stride.
You be the judge of that.
Oklahoma State then faced Oklahoma, and G Juarez. The Sooners set OSU up with Washington in a losers bracket game where they faced phenomenal pitching from Taran Alvelo.
The Cowgirls ended their season just short of their goal in OKC.
No OSU team had a better season than the Oklahoma State men’s golf team. The Cowboys amassed 6 tournament wins, (including the Ohio State regional).
For the NCAA finals, their 72nd appearance in 73 years, they went to one of the toughest golf courses I’ve ever seen, The Blessings in NWA. In stroke play, the Cowboys were the only team to go under par.
They beat the rest of the field by AT LEAST THIRTY ONE STROKES.
The Cowboys lost to Texas in the second round of match play.
Oklahoma State was the best team out there and you will never convince me otherwise. The stroke play speaks for itself, and the team was led by Masters Low-Amateur & US Am champion Viktor Hovland, and Matthew Wolff, winner of the Haskins Award “The Heisman of Golf.”
2019 was one for the books.
At the time of the publishing of this article, we are 67 days, 20 hours, 14 minutes and 30 seconds away from the kickoff of soccer.
Until then, keep flipping those bats, throwing those TD passes, and tearing up golf courses.