May 11, 2019 marked a historic moment for Rogers State baseball.
That was the day the Hillcats upset St. Edwards, the six-time defending conference champion, to win the Heartland Conference Tournament. It was their first appearance in the postseason since joining the league.
On a recent segment of “Hillcat Student-Athlete Vantage Point” on the athletic department’s Twitter account, RSU senior pitcher and Chelsea alum Corey Murphy shared his thoughts on what the accomplishment meant to him.
Murphy didn’t pitch during the Hillcats’ 4-3 win, but he did pick up a no decision against St. Edwards in the tournament semifinals, going 5.2 innings while surrounding only two earned runs. He surrendered seven hits with one walk and a strikeout.
“That was the most surreal sports moment I’ve had in my life playing this game,” Murphy said. “I’ve never been with a team that was so focused and so driven toward one single goal. We really had a big chip on our shoulder when we found out we were picked sixth (in the conference), and we weren’t even picked to make the tournament. We had a talk about that before the season even started, actually.
“I’ve just never seen a team buy in so much to one common goal, and to see us achieve that, man, I’m just super thankful that I got to be a part of something so special.”
The Hillcats went on to fall in the NCAA South Central Region II Tournament the following week, but that didn’t put a damper on Murphy’s stellar season.
He earned first team All-Conference honors after setting an NCAA-era school record for wins on the mound with nine in 92.1 innings pitched, which ranked second in the league. Murphy also led the conference in starts, posting a 3.22 ERA with 54 strikeouts through 78.1 innings during the regular season.
His senior season in 2020, which was cut short by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, got off to a rough start, though.
Murphy went 1-3 in 24.2 innings pitched while allowing 22 runs with a 5.84 ERA. He also surrendered 30 hits against 100 batters while striking out 18.
Luckily, he will have chance at redemption.
Murphy plans to return to RSU for another baseball season after the NCAA granted players an extra year of eligibility.
“I was struggling with a couple of injuries, which is no excuse,” Murphy told the Progress in March. “I haven’t been performing to the standard that I hold myself to and I know my coaches hold me to. So I am really thankful that I do get to come back for another year and give it another run.”