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"When you talk about winning and losing, kids start fearing that instead of just playing the game."

On the eve of the College World Series, a former assistant of shares a lesson of zen from the winningest college baseball coach of all-time.

On Friday afternoon, Skip Johnson will lead Oklahoma into the College World Series for the first time.

These next two weeks have the potential to culminate a magical summer for the Sooners. OU finished third in the Big 12 in the regular season, won the conference tournament, beat Florida at Florida, then beat No. 4 Virginia Tech at Virginia Tech to reach its first CWS since 2010. If Johnson's team plays the next two weeks like it has the last two, Oklahoma can become the first team ever to win baseball and softball crowns in the same year.

But that won't be Johnson's message as Oklahoma takes the field against Texas A&M on Friday afternoon, nor for any game thereafter. 

While Friday marks Johnson's first CWS game at Oklahoma, it's far from his first CWS game. Johnson was Augie Garrido's pitching coach at Texas from 2007-16, where in his 10 seasons the Longhorns reached Omaha three times. The 2009 team was the best one, coming one game shy of Garrido's sixth national championship.

At his pre-CWS press conference, Johnson told the story of the bus ride before the Longhorns' opening game in the 2009 World Series. 

"We didn't talk about winning or losing the game. He talked about executing. He talked about getting bunts down, first-pitch strikes, playing good catch. And we win on a walk-off walk. How does that happen, you know?

"I thought to myself, 'Wow, this is pretty cool.' He never talked about winning and losing. What happens in this game, you talk about winning and losing, kids start fearing that instead of just playing the game. Do you ever really win at baseball? You don't. You've just got to keep playing the game."

Texas won the game in question 7-6, scoring their last three runs on bases loaded walks. Of the last 11 Longhorns at the plate, six were walked and a seventh was hit by a pitch.

That's what Garrido, the winningest coach in college baseball history, prophesied on the bus ride to Rosenblatt Stadium. 

“It’s just the way baseball treats people sometimes. It’s a brutal game,” Garrido said afterward. “Being in this environment for the first time created some nerves that turned into fear and eventually was the demise of an otherwise courageous team.”

Southern Miss started fearing the outcome of the game instead of just playing, instead of just playing the game. It's Garrido's version of The Process, harmonized for a different audience. 

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