The Texas Two-Step

College teammates work together in pros

By Jarah Wright / Idaho Falls Chukars | July 2, 2014 3:23 PM ET

  "A hard-hit ground ball heads to shortstop Corey Toups who fields the ball cleanly to make the throw over to first baseman Ryan O'Hearn for the out."

     It's a sentence that many Sam Houston State University baseball fans have heard and Chukars' fans might hear more of this summer as the two Texas teammates made their way to Idaho Falls this summer.

     The two had different paths to college ball. Toups went to the Woodlands College Park High School in The Woodlands, Texas which is about 30 minutes from Houston.

     "I was playing for Coach Washburn there. He's a great coach. I think he really got me to the next level," Toups said. "I think it was my senior year, I mean it was probably late May before I even got a call from a college and it was Sam Houston State. It was my only offer other than Texas State which was a walk-on. Sam offered me a scholarship so I went there."

     O'Hearn went to Frisco Wakeland High School in Frisco, Texas which is about 45 minutes minutes from Dallas.

     "I played for Barry Rose. He's a good guy. I didn't really have a good junior year and then my senior year I kind of went off and I think I hit .500 with a bunch of home runs," O'Hearn said. "I made second team All-American by Baseball America. I had a few offers out of high school but I thought I was going to go the junior college route. I really like Grayson Junior College and then got a really good scholarship offer from Sam Houston."

     The pair met freshman year and became fast friends.

     "We had no idea who each other was," Toups said. "I was roommates with a guy who doesn't play anymore and Ryan was roommates with this guy…"

     "That I really didn't get along with," O'Hearn added. "Me and Corey just hung out a lot freshman year. We became roommates for our sophomore and junior years and rented an apartment together."

     "And we were bus buddies on road trips," Toups said. "Now we're bus buddies and roommates again in pro ball. Over the course of the daily grind, we built a good friendship."

     Both faced similar battles their freshman year at Sam Houston State as they battled against older players to win their positions at shortstop and first base.

     "It was me and three other guys who were all older than me. Coach Pierce just basically told me you're got a good opportunity to come in here and battle for a spot so you're going to have to work your butt off," Toups said. "That's what I did. I had a great fall and then during the spring during intersquads, I did well and won the position. I didn't expect it but it was what I wanted and I had my goal set on that."

     In 2012, O'Hearn played in 61 games and Toups played in 62 games, both as true freshman. With solid season under their belts, it looked as if the pair was going to continue holding down the BearKats infield until Toups suffered a season-ending injury.

     "I injured my left knee in pre-game before our third game of the season which was against Texas State. We got these brand new spikes from Adidas. The spikes were like gigantic, like an inch long. I went to go cover second base during in and out," Toups said. "My cleats got stuck in the ground and I turned. My knee dislocated and I tore my medial patella tendon. I had to have surgery for that and I rehabbed for like five months."

     Over the next five months Toups underwent extensive rehab to return to the baseball field by July.

     "When I first got the surgery, I couldn't bend my knee at all. Not even like 180 degrees which is straight. I was on a wall for a couple of months just slowly and surely bending it until I could get the range of motion back," Toups said. "Once I could bend it fully, I ran and squatted trying to get all of the strength back in it."

     The pair had strong seasons with the BearKats this spring which led to both of them being drafted.

     "I was in my living room with my parents, brother, and sister standing by the computer waiting to see or hear my name get called. It was pretty nervewracking," O'Hearn said. "I remember after I got called I talked to Corey and he said he had gotten a call from Justin Lair, the area scout, and I told him you want to go and it worked out."

     Both were excited to be drafted and didn't expect to end up with the same team sharing the same infield.

     "At the beginning we thought that we were going to be sent to separate rookie ball teams because I had been told that I might go to Burlington," O'Hearn said. "Then I found out I was coming to Idaho with Corey and I was excited and maybe a little bit relieved because I knew someone really well going into it."

     Both have adapted well to Idaho Falls and have one thing left on their minds.

     "We just go out there, expect to win, and have a great time."

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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