STILLWATER — There is no way to replace a first-round draft pick in any sport, let alone in college baseball.
But the Oklahoma State University pitching staff will attempt to at least try to find a way to fill the hole left by Andrew Heaney, a left-handed ace who won Big 12 Conference Pitcher of the Year honors last season before being selected by the Miami Marlins with the ninth overall pick in the Major League Baseball draft.
“I’ve seen a lot of really good progress. I don’t think you replace Andrew Heaney, you just hope pitchers throughout your staff elevate their own games, individually,” first-year coach Josh Holliday said.
Heaney isn’t the only pitcher having to be replaced during Holliday’s first head coaching gig at his alma mater. The Cowboys must find a way to make up for the loss of a combined 24 victories registered by pitchers no longer on the roster.
The top returning starter on the mound for OSU is Randy McCurry, who also doubles as a utility player. McCurry had a 3.34 ERA last season with a 4-3 record in 12 starts — the second-most of any Cowboy pitcher behind Heaney.
The biggest obstacle, however, may not necessarily be getting the same production as Heaney, but at least the similar amount of work. Heaney threw more than double the innings of any returning pitcher for OSU with 118.1 innings pitched — including six complete games. McCurry registered just 67.1 innings and junior Vince Wheeland, who started in nine games and had an ERA of 4.04 with just a 2-1 record, is the only other Cowboy besides Heaney to pitch a complete game last year.
“You hope that over the staff there’s quality innings that are absorbed by other guys,” Holliday said. “Could one person do that? Never. Andrew was maybe the best pitcher in college baseball last year, was just dominant when you look at his numbers.