|Oklahoma's Premier Summer Baseball Program||Sunday, August 30, 2015|
The 2001 Travelers season ranks at the top of seasons the Travelers have put together in more than 40 years. Some of the numbers are staggering.
The Travelers finished 64-14, the 3rd best record in Traveler history with an .820 winning percentage. It fell only behind 1984 (.837) and 1985 (.878). Ironically, the 1984 team finished 3rd in the state, as did the 2001 team. The 1985 team, which saw 11 of its players move on to Division I or professional ball, finished in the World Series. The schedule also was in the top two rated schedules in the program history.
Fifteen individual records in Traveler history were tapped into. Beau Sullivan finished 2nd in the all-time hitting records, posting a .486 average. Five players reached the .400 plateau, the first time in Traveler history that this feat has occurred.
Besides Sullivan's mark, Ryan Ommen finished at .444, and three outfielders - Matt Stout (.436), Bernardo Estrada (.433) and Jon Bushman (.431) round out a record breaking offensive year. The 1984 and 1985 teams had 3 players each reach the .400 mark.
Beau Sullivan finished in the 100 hit club. Only 21 players have achieved this goal in Traveler history. Sullivan finished with 108 for the season.
Beau also chased the doubles record during the 2001 campaign. The record of 38 held by Monty Kauk since 1978 held up however, as Sullivan finished second with 32. Cody Merrell also slapped 27 doubles this season to make the all-time list. Merrell is only 17 years old, and has a chance to chase Sullivan and Kauk again in 2002.
Bernardo Estrada Jr. exploded onto the scene in 2001. Estrada not only hit a whopping .433 he also blasted 10 triples, placing him in a 5 way tie for fourth all time. Unfortunately Estrada was gunned down at third twice on questionable calls that could have left him in 2nd place.
Estrada wound up signing to play collegiate ball at NOC in Enid after a stellar season with the Travelers despite being a relatively unknown player from Perryton, Texas prior to the 2001 summer.
The great offensive year was not a big Home Run year, but Matt Yost reached the books with 13. Three players hold the top spot with 25. They are Rhett Smith, Ryan Minor, and Damon Minor.
Yost has another year to improve on his Home Run number, but he will have to do it in his hometown of Elk City (where the Traveler program is moving next season). Elk City's Ackley Park is known as the place where fly balls go to die with a monstrous centerfield.
Tanner Dewald finished tied for 7th with hit by pitches. Tanner stayed in and took 13 pitches for the team in 2001.
The Pitching records were probably the most impressive part of the 2001 season.
Landon Scales finished with 13 wins. The all-time record is 18 held by Bryan Gore. Landon will be back in 2002 to attempt to shoot for Gore's 18. Landon walked just 13 batters, which is unbelievable when you figure he won as many games as he gave up free passes.
Trey Dewald fell one win short of the record book with 11 wins. Trey finished his two year run with the Travelers as being one of the most improved pitchers from year one to year two in recent history. The stocky righthander was nearly unbeatable at the end of 2001.
Ryan Kaney finished in the fewest runs allowed category. Ryan gave up just 20 runs during the season in his closing duties. Kaney allowed just 11 earned runs and walked just 17 batters. Each feat made the all-time record books.
Despite this individual record-breaking season, it was the Travelers' team accomplishments that set them apart.
The Travelers posted a 22-game winning streak. They reached at least the semifinal round in every tournament they participated in except for Pueblo where they went 5-1 and tied for first in their division. The 2001 Travelers did well at tournaments in Enid (5-2), Kansas City (4-2), and in the Travelers invitational (4-3).
The Travelers swept through the district tournament in Enid allowing just 1-run to Enid in a double-header sweep, taking the district trophy.
Rivalry department: The Travelers swept Enid again, going 5-0 and remain undefeated in David Allen Memorial stadium since its opening at 5-0. As it stands, Enid Legion officials have refused to schedule the Travelers next season, so the rivalry may come to an end with the Travelers, of course, on top.
The Travelers also swept the trio of Cherry Creek, Puerto Rico and Las Vegas (twice). They beat powerhouse Burkburnett 3-of-4, in Burkburnett, and swept Oklahoma City Reynolds, beating them 5 times in 2001.
The Edmond Stars fell to the Travelers three times out of four tries, including a 13-5 setback in the second round of the state tournament.
Midwest City and Tulsa Mid-Continent were the only teams that held the key to stopping one of American Legion's most potent offenses in recent memory. Great pitching.
MWC used a knuckle-baller to beat the Travelers at state, a pitcher that helped lead them to a third place finish in the AL World Series. Mid-Continent had University of Arkansas signee Charley Boyce, who threw an outstanding game on a rainy day to win 2-1 over Ryan Kaney and the Travelers, ending the season.
All 4 players completing their playing career with the Travelers received college scholarships.
Who could forget the emergence of Bernardo Estrada. Bernardo lifted the crowd with his towering blasts on a regular bases.
Jon Bushman set the example of what everyone hopes a superstar reflects on and off the field.
Ryan Kaney finished with the guts that exemplifies what Traveler players are made of. Maybe the most unselfish player to ever come through the system.
And no one will forget just how good Beau Sullivan really was, and how humbly he went about it. Beau has few peers in this program -- Gregg Ward, Monty Kauk, Monty Farriss, Craig Harvey and Ryan Minor go on the short list with Beau as the best to ever play here.
Caleb Briggs, who hit some moon shots out of the park, along with Matt Yost and Landon Scales have high expectations for the upcoming season. Matt Stout blew everyone away with his impressive season, and Cody Merrell began to emerge as the team leader he needs to be.
These players and several others on next year's club will be hot commodities for college recruiters. It will be interesting to see where they all land.
Of the great Traveler seasons, 2001 will be the one that most associated with the program will remember.
It was the season when head coach Bob Ward stepped aside for son Mark. Then the conflicts with an American Legion group -- a group that knows nothing of baseball and never had anything to do with the operations or success of the program for 37 years -- forced Mark to move the team elsewhere in the best interest of the organization.
Leaving Woodward was hard for the Travelers, but leaving those who wanted to cripple the program for their personal agenda was not hard at all.
The most embarrassing part of it is that the Woodward American Legion plans on calling their first team that they have ever run next year, the Woodward Travelers, most likely in an attempt to raise money using the name.
The Traveler program has became a nationally recognized element in amateur baseball over the past 37 years. Over 350 kids have come through the program since 1964, many acquiring college scholarships they otherwise wouldn't have had, and several making it to the pro ranks.
All of those alums should be proud at the steps the organization has taken to make sure that EXCELLENCE and WINNING always remain the foremost traits of the Traveler organization.
So for our last season in Woodward, it was fitting that we fielded one of the most outstanding teams in our history. The 2001 team members should be very proud of themselves.
And Elk City…get ready.
We're bringing an outstanding program to you. And we're excited about it.
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