Stillwater News Press

High School Sports

May 22, 2014

Cushing baseball thrives in Yates’ first season as head coach

STILLWATER, Okla. — The 2014 season started as a year of transition for the Cushing Tigers baseball team as Jon Yates replaced Charles Copeland.

At the end of the season, the Tigers got to play on high school baseball’s biggest stage as they qualified for the 4A state tournament. Cushing’s successful season earned them Area Athlete of the Week honors as a team.

“(The seniors) rallied us all year,” Yates said. “They didn’t know me from Adam. I came from Berryhill, that’s all they knew. They bought in.”

Cushing junior Blake Burden said once they got to know Yates more they improved.

“Once we got close to him we started having fun and played well,” Burden said. “We started the season pinched up and not playing really consistent. We played our best baseball at the most important part of the season.”

Senior Drew Willson said Yates was very encouraging at the beginning of the season.

“He told us we had a lot of talent and could achieve great things,” Willson said. “We started believing.”

The Tigers were up and down during the first month of the season. Cushing won five of its first six games before going on a three-game losing streak. The Tigers followed that up with a four-game winning streak and a four-game losing streak. Cushing ended the regular season winning five of its last seven games.

In the postseason, Cushing waltzed past Harding Charter in a district tournament sweep. In regionals, the Tigers were the third seed in Berryhill’s regional and opened with No. 11 Harrah and their former coach Copeland. Cushing prevailed 11-1 and faced the fourth seed Mannford and won 10-3. In the championship the Tigers defeated Yates’ former team, Berryhill 6-2.

“It was fun getting to play them,” Burden said. “We weren’t looking to get back at them, we just enjoyed getting to play in those games. Mannford upset Berryhill and everything started falling our way.”

The Tigers played No. 1 Tuttle in the state quarterfinals and hung with them after falling behind 3-0. Cushing loaded the bases and scored two runs in the sixth inning. Burden said it gives the returning players motivation for next season.

“It was a good atmosphere and fun playing as a junior,” Burden said. “I have another shot to go back next year. We are only losing three seniors.”

Honorable Mentions

Geoff Hogan, Perry tennis

Chase Wheatley, Perry tennis

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