In the first inning of Oklahoma State’s Friday battle with Kansas State, Carson McCusker stepped into the batter's box for the first time since March 11, 2020, 380 days ago.
McCusker was met with a standing ovation from the crowd and the dugout with players standing on the bench cheering for their teammate.
“In the time he hasn’t been playing he’s been such a great teammate,” Brock Mathis said. “Tonight when Carson got in I got chills when he stepped in because so many people were cheering for him.”
McCusker missed all 20 of the Cowboys games this season with a back injury, and coach Josh Holliday saw a quick turnaround in his big left fielder. McCusker didn’t see live pitching until Thursday and then saw himself starting on Friday.
“When you see Carson McCusker in the batter’s box it just looks different, doesn’t it?” OSU coach Josh Holliday said. “That’s a large man. A 6-foot-8, 240-pound specimen is playing baseball, there aren’t many of them. Hadn’t seen a live pitched baseball until (Thursday), and then he plays (Friday), so pretty remarkable.”
Since 2019, McCusker, Alix Garcia, Cade Cabbiness and Hueston Morrill have been key pieces to the OSU lineup, but they had yet to play a game together in 2021. McCusker, Morrill and Cabbiness have each had to deal with different injuries keeping them out of the lineup at times this season. However, in the Cowboys home Big 12 opening 14-5 win the four were all together again.
All four didn’t have their best games, but McCusker made his presence felt in his return. He went 2-for-4 in his season debut, and Garcia did drive in two runs.
“It was nice (to have all those players in the lineup),” Holliday said. “They’ve all done good things here, and they hold leadership positions on our team.”
The Cowboys have outfielder depth, but it’s different when a 6-foot-8 fifth year senior steps into the box. His experience and abilities help him be a leader to the team.
“If you look at that guy he’s a big intimidating guy,” Mathis said. “Whatever park we walk into, and you see that guy and watch him take (batting practice), to see how athletic that big guy is crucial.”