Stillwater News Press

Sports Columns

April 21, 2014

The Holt Report: Stillwater baseball is serious contender for state

STILLWATER, Okla. — Winning a high school state championship in any sport is not an easy task.

It requires talent, maturity, the avoidance of serious injuries and a break or two to bring home the coveted gold ball.

Stillwater High’s baseball team can check off the four requirements mentioned above as the Pioneers are considered serious challengers, if not the front-runner, for the Class 6A state championship in early May.

SHS, which has excelled in all phases of the game, has talent, as evidenced by the 24-2 overall record and 11-1 district mark. Also last weekend’s two-game district split with Owasso — the dominate team in Class 6A the past 16 years.

The Pioneers, Rams and Jenks Trojans are in the running for the top two spots in the district — which rewards the top two teams with a hosting assignment in the upcoming regional tournament.

SHS has maturity and leadership as evidenced by the 17 seniors on this year’s roster, including outfielder Jon Littell and pitcher Cason Teel, both Oklahoma State signees.

And, at this point in the season, the Pioneers have avoided serious injuries and appear to be healthy as the season enters the stretch run.

Breaks also seem to favor the Pioneers as two of the teams expected to be in the state title hunt at the start of the season had their rosters weakened by season-ending injuries.

Owasso, now 18-6, was one of the teams victimized by injuries. OHS lost senior infielder/outfielder Mason O’Brien for the season during the preseason with a knee injury and pitcher Braden Webb, who suffered an arm injury this season.

O’Brien, who signed to play baseball at Oklahoma State, and Webb, who signed with South Carolina, are the Rams’ top players. That’s comparable to the Pioneers losing Littell and Teel.

Owasso, the perennial power in Class 6A, has qualified for state 16 of the past 17 years, has reached the state finals 15 times and won nine state championships. Last season, the Rams won state with a 36-0 record.

It was Owasso who denied SHS in 2001, defeating the Josh Fields-led Pioneers the last time Stillwater reached the state finals.

Jenks, which also enters play this week with a 24-2 record, was hit by the injury bug when it lost Allan Beer for the season with an arm injury. Beer, who signed with Bradley University, was the team’s shortstop and a starting pitcher.

Broken Arrow, the only other team to defeat SHS, has to be in the state title talk also. The Tigers, who visited Jenks Monday, are 27-4 and riding a 14-game winning streak.

There are no guarantees, especially in a single elimination state tourney, and challenges remain this season but the Pioneers have positioned themselves to make a run at the school’s first state baseball championship since 1957.

Ron Holt is a columnist for the Stillwater News Press. Holt was a sports editor for the News Press for nearly 30 years and currently resides in Bixby.

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