MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

OU

May 9, 2013

Friends to face each other at Bedlam

STILLWATER – When Oklahoma State University leadoff hitter Saulyer Saxon steps in the batter’s box for tonight’s Bedlam opener at ONEOK Field in Tulsa, it won’t just be Oklahoma’s Jonathan Gray, who is a projected top-5 pick in the MLB Draft.

For Saxon, it will be a very familiar face staring back at him from the bump.

Saxon, a Shawnee native, knows Gray, a native of Chandler, from their days playing baseball growing up in Oklahoma.

“I’m pretty good friends with Jon Gray, I played in little league with him growing up,” OSU’s leadoff man said. “Then we played in Legion ball together. He’s a great guy, and obviously a great pitcher.”

Saxon has several friends on the OU team, and several more that are students at the Norman campus. But he said there hasn’t been many exchanges heading into this important weekend with both teams jockeying for position near the top of the Big 12 Conference standings.

“I haven’t really talked to them yet ... but I might shoot a text to see how they are doing, but no smack talking,” Saxon said. “Nothing to get them fired up.”

It really is no surprise of the amount of connections that can be made between the two in-state rivals with the countless Oklahoma natives littering both teams’ rosters. But there is one unique connection shared by OSU closer Brendan McCurry.

McCurry, the younger brother of senior shortstop Randy McCurry, spent several years at Howard College in Texas before making his way to Stillwater this season. Howard has been somewhat of a pipeline program for the Sooners with five former Howard College players currently on the OU roster.

“I know a lot of those guys on their team from my time at Howard, but not just from there,” McCurry said. “I know (Dillon) Overton, I played summer ball with him. I’ve played summer ball with Jonathan Gray. Bunch of those guys I’ve known for a while.”

McCurry wasn’t one to talk much of his former Howard teammates. Not now that they are technically opponents.

“It’s just another game. It’s not that big of a deal,” the junior right-handed hurler said. “There’s a couple from Howard I still talk to, but not a lot really.”

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