Oklahoma State outfielder Ty Wright recently took time to answer a few questions from SCS.com. Wright is one of the top players in the Big XII and is a returning sophomore for Coach Frank Anderson's Cowboys. After being named honorable mention All-Big XII in 2004, the Texas native was recently one of only fifty-eight players nation-wide named to the 2005 Brooks Wallace Award Watch List. OSU opened the 2005 season with a three-game home series against Arkansas-Pine Bluff last weekend.
TY WRIGHT, OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY
SCS.com: Coming out of Wills Point High School in Tyler, Texas, what other colleges did you consider, and why did you ultimately decide to attend Oklahoma State?
Wright: "I had considered Dallas Baptist University, and I had already signed with Grayson County College to play there. I decided on OSU for the reason of winning, and that's where I wanted to be....at a school that was going to have a chance to win every year and win at a high level."
SCS.com: You were a three-sport star at Wills Point. In addition to being honored as a first team all-state selection at shortstop, you were named all-state as a wide receiver and earned all-district honors as a guard on the hardwood. Was baseball your favorite sport to play growing up, and did you ever consider playing multiple sports on the collegiate level?
Wright: "I think growing up, whatever sport was in season, I wanted to play that sport. As I got older, baseball has always had a special place in me that I knew I wanted to play the game for as long as I could. But football in Texas is like no other, and it was hard to give that up. Even now I miss both basketball and football a lot."
SCS.com: You had a fabulous true freshman season in 2004, hitting for a .327 average and starting 61 of the Cowboys' 62 games. You slammed five homeruns, had sixteen doubles, and drove in 42 runs on the season. You earned a Big XII Player of the Week award in mid-April and were honorable mention all-Big XII. What was the key to your success as a first-year player in a conference as tough as the Big XII, and how honored were you to be considered among the league's best players?
Wright: "To tell you the truth, the season was a lot of fun with older guys who taught me a lot. Josh Fields, Jason Jaramillo, Rod Allen, and Kirbo (Scott Kirby), they really helped me a lot, and when it came to the games, I just played and had fun playing the same game I have been playing since I was a little kid. I also had a coach, Coach Robbie Wine, who was the big reason I had success. He really kept my mind going in the right direction, and he knew what I needed and what I didn't need. I really don't think about being the best or part of that group people call the best; I just enjoy playing the game and go out and try hard to win games and have fun at the same time."
SCS.com: The recognition has moved to a national scale heading into the 2005 season. You were one of only 58 players nation-wide named to the Brooks Wallace Award Watch List. That award will be handed out to the nation's top baseball player at the completion of the season. What does this national exposure mean not only to you but to your team and your school?
Wright: "This is really new news to me, but I think it's great. I really don't think too much about awards. I think the university is on its way back to the top of college baseball, and we have a great team this year. And with everyone's help, I feel this will be one of the best OSU teams that Stillwater and the nation has seen in a while."
SCS.com: You began 2004 by getting the start at first base, but later in the season, you got a large number of starts as the DH. Which role do you prefer to play, and which spot to you expect to start at the most in 2005?
Wright: "I now prefer the outfield. I think heading into 2005, you will see me in left field. I have a huge comfort level out in left, and I feel like that is the spot that I can best help the team win. But don't worry if coach comes calling and needs me somewhere else; I won't hesitate to move for him."
SCS.com: An additional weapon you possess is your speed. You successfully stole nine bases in just eleven attempts last season. How much does speed help your overall game, and do you expect to do more running on the basepaths in 2005?
Wright: "Speed is a huge factor. I stole more early on. I think speed will help me this year with hits, but yes, we do plan to run this year and I hope that I can get on enough to help out with the running part. I hope to steal more this year more deeper into the season, so hopefully that is something that other teams will have to keep their eye on."
SCS.com: The 2004 season was a successful one for the Cowboys. OSU finished 38-24 overall and 15-11 in the conference, good enough for a fourth place finish in the Big XII. The team really got hot during the Big XII Tournament, sweeping all four games and winning the school's first-ever Big XII Tournament title. The finale was a 13-inning marathon won by the Cowboys 10-9. Talk about that crazy final game of the tournament on Sunday, and also tell us about the excitement of being a part of Oklahoma State's first-ever conference tournament title.
Wright: "That game is probably the funniest and the best game I have ever played in. It was very hot that day and it seemed like we were out, but after Coach Anderson called us up and talked to us, we believed we could come back and win. Just the whole game and the way it played out, I will never forget that game and that team that fought hard those 13 innings."
SCS.com: The next stop for the Pokes was the Tallahassee Regional. After splitting the first two games, OSU was eliminated by Central Florida. How much more intense is postseason baseball compared to the regular season, and now that you've had a taste of Regional play, does that make you want to go even farther in 2005?
Wright: "The postseason is very intense. All the teams there have worked so hard all year to get there and will do anything to win. I want (to get) back and (to go) farther this year. College baseball only provides four years of playing. That's not very much time, so we have to take advantage of this opportunity right now, this year, as best as we can."
SCS.com: It looks as if OSU is all set for another great season. Four position starters return to Stillwater, and a talented group of newcomers are on their way in as well. Collegiate Baseball recently ranked the team number twenty-three in its preseason poll. How do you and the team deal with the high expectations placed on you, and what goals have been set for the upcoming season?
Wright: "We really haven't talked at all about preseason hype because that's just what that is....hype. But we know that we need to play hard every inning of every game, and the wins and losses will take care of itself."
SCS.com: The Big XII is undoubtedly one of America's top conferences. Playing at a school like OSU allows you to visit some of the country's best ballparks. Just last season, the Cowboys made trips to places like TCU, Stetson, Arizona State, Texas, Baylor, and Oklahoma. This year's schedule has road trips planned to Rice, Nebraska, Texas Tech, Wichita State, Texas A&M, and others. Of the places you visited last season, which two or three stand out the most, and which trip on this year's schedule do you have circled on your calendar?
Wright: "Last year's trip to Arizona State was my favorite, not only (because of) the city and that I have never been there before, but playing one of the top teams in the nation, I learned a lot from that Devils' team on how to play the game from how hard they played. I (saw) how I could use those lessons for myself to play the game at a better level. This year I look forward to the Houston trip, playing three top teams (Rice, Houston, and Tennessee) there, and also I will be able to see my sister and her husband who just had their first baby boy. I am really excited about going down there to see her and my whole family."
SCS.com: While playing on the road can be interesting, there's nothing like taking the field in front of the home fans. Allie P. Reynolds Stadium has been the home of OSU baseball for nearly 25 years, and the team has won almost 86% of the games played there since it was opened. In fact, the team has never lost more than two straight home games at Reynolds. The facility can sit about 4,000 rowdy Cowboy fans. What is the biggest advantage to playing at home, and as a player, do you actually hear or pay attention to the crowd while you are on the field?
Wright: "I think playing at home is a real comfort level, playing in your own park, the batters' box you hit in every day, the same field you play defense on every day. It's a mind deal and it helps out playing at home, and then when the fans come and root and cheer you on, it's a thrill to play baseball with such great fans."
SCS.com: Your head coach, Frank Anderson, is entering only his second year on campus, but he has already taken the team to a Big XII Tournament championship. The trip to the NCAA Tournament last season was the school's first in three years, and the team's regular season conference finish was the best in five years. Obviously he has things moving in the right direction. What is the key to Coach Anderson's success, and how high do you think he can take the program at Oklahoma State?
Wright: "I think Coach Anderson is a coach who knows how to win becasue he has been there with Texas and can get his players to believe what he and his coaching staff are trying to sell. He has a great understanding of the game and is really a great coach."
SCS.com: What is your favorite memory from your baseball career, whether it be little league, high school, or college?
Wright: "My favorite memory has to be the Big XII Championship Game."
SCS.com: Many athletes have role models that guide their athletic and personal lives. Who is one person you look up to on the field and one person you admire off the field?
Wright: "I really look up to a lot of old baseball players that I read about. Ted Williams and those guys, how they worked hard to develop what they got, and I really enjoy reading about what they have to say and some stories they have to tell. It's always fun to me."
SCS.com: What are a few things you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Wright: "I enjoy hanging out with teammates and being with friends."
SCS.com: If a young baseball player was reading this and aspired to become successful in the sport, what advice would you give them?
Wright: "Keep working hard and don't give up. Stay mentally ready, and don't let stuff get into your head so easily."
SCS.com would again like to thank Oklahoma State's Ty Wright for taking time to answer our questions. We would like to wish he and the Cowboys the best of luck throughout the upcoming season.
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