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'It's win and advance' : Campbell, Cowboys prepared for difficult regional opener

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Starting pitcher Justin Campbell on the mound for the Cowboys

The Cowboys have headed west.

Oklahoma State opens the 2021 NCAA Tucson regional hosted by No. 5 national seed Arizona on Friday. The Cowboys, the No. 2 seed in the regional, will play UC Santa Barbara (39-18).

First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m. CST.

The fourth team in the regional is Grand Canyon, a familiar face for the Cowboys. The Cowboys went 2-0-1 against Grand Canyon early in the season.

The Cowboys, who have dealt with injuries on the mound toward the end of the season, will turn to All- American Justin Campbell for the start in game one. Campbell has been a consistent piece of the Cowboys rotation dawning a 7-1 record to prove it. Campbell has a 2.08 ERA, which is second on the team and first among starters, and an even 100 strikeouts.

Campbell is ready for his first postseason action.

“It’s huge. When I’m on the mound, I know I’m going to give my team the best chance to win a ballgame, especially getting (game one) out of the way. It builds confidence and momentum for the whole team,” Campbell said.

The Cowboys will be faced with a tough pitching staff of UCSB in game one. Michael McGreevy, will likely draw the game one start. McGreevy is a projected first round pick in the MLB Draft. 

“It doesn’t matter who's throwing, we all stick to an approach and if we stick to it properly it really doesn't matter who’s throwing at the end of the day,” Christian Encarnacion said.

At the plate, the Cowboys biggest boost of power, Encarnacion, has not hit a home run since April 25 against Texas, stalling his season total at 15. However, since his last home run he’s had seven extra base hits and 15 RBIs making coach Josh Holliday not as worried.

Plus Hi Corbett Field is known as a hitter friendly ballpark.

“This is a great ballpark for guys to hit the ball clean on the barrel, so I imagine that home run streak will pick back up at some point while we’re out here (in Tucson),” Holliday said.

As for Encarnacion, he’s just sticking to his normal routine.

“When I’m hitting I try not to think, at all. I just see it and hit it. If I hit it out, I hit it out, if I don’t, I don’t. At the end of the day it’s all about making hard contact,” Encarncion said.

If the Cowboys win they will play the winner of Arizona and Grand Canyon on Saturday at 9 p.m. and if they lose they will play Saturday at 3 p.m. in an elimination game.

“It’s win and advance,” Holliday said.