Stillwater News Press

Sports Columns

May 17, 2014

Orange Prattle: Stillwater's title has roots with 2012 team

NORMAN, Okla. — As the 22 players of the Stillwater High baseball team — along with several managers — formed a dog pile near the mound at L. Dale Mitchell Park in Norman to celebrate the school’s first state title since 1957, several members of the 2012 state-qualifying team looked on and cheered.

But those former players from 2012 were just as instrumental in the state championship as every single player on the 2014 title winners.

Before that special season that had a senior class with two players on Division I teams — Corey Hassel with Oklahoma State and Parker Zimmerman at Wichita State — it has been seven long years since Stillwater had even made it to state. And that senior class, which also featured starters Jerame Littell, Hayden Killam and Boo Todhunter, paved the path for this group of Pioneers to finally reach the sport’s pinnacle.

“That was an influential group and I’m so thankful to have them as a part of my life,” said senior Carson Teel, who was a sophomore on the 2012 team. “This is definitely partially theirs. They should get a ring. They definitely had a big impact on our success this year.”

This year’s squad took the next step for Stillwater. They won the championship, and it’s theirs.

But the group that has said all year how close they were, knows that once a Pioneer, always a Pioneer. And that this championship doesn’t just belong to them, but also to the teams that failed to win it between now and 1957.

That includes teams that had future Major League players Josh Fields and Matt Holiday.

“We know that there’s been so many great Stillwater teams that haven’t been able to get it done, so we’ve been working on doing this since we were little kids,” said senior Jon Littell, who was also on the 2012 squad. “I don’t think anybody ever doubted that we could do it.”

This group of teenagers came together as a team, dedicating a season — and now a championship — to Max Hollman, the older brother of winning pitcher Nick Hollman who tragically passed away in his sleep at 30 years old. While there is talent on the team with several players slotted to join the Oklahoma State program — such as Teel, Littell and senior catcher Michael Higgins — only time will tell if those names are comparable to those of Fields or Holiday.

But in this one special season, 57 years in the making, this Stillwater High baseball team etched itself into Stillwater High athletic history.

And they have the 50-plus teams before them to thank.

“Stillwater has a handful of Major League baseball players, there have been so many great players here, and for us to win a state championship for the first time since 1957, it’s special for Stillwater and for our school,” first-year coach Jimmy Harris said. “These parents and these kids have believed since they were little kids that it could happen to them.

“I had a bunch of eighth-graders that were sitting behind home plate today and walked over to them during the trophy presentation and told them to pay attention, because this is what it’s going to be like for them.”

Jason Elmquist is sports editor of The Stillwater News Press. He can be contacted at jelmquist@stwnewspress.com.

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