|Oklahoma's Premier Summer Baseball Program||Sunday, August 02, 2015|
The 44th Traveler installment did something no other had done before it: It became the first team in the program's history to win its own tournament (Route 66 Classic) and the Pueblo tournament (Andenucio) in the same year.
Both tournaments are considered jewels of the season. Each has been around for a quarter century or more, and each features some of the strongest fields of any in the region. The Travelers have played in each tourney the past 25 years -- winning each several times -- but 2007 was the first year the Travelers celebrated a title in both.
The squad was also just the third ever to win more than 70 games, going 73-11 on the season. That mark was good enough for an .869 win-percentage -- the second highest in program history, just missing the mark set by the 1985 squad (.878).
This team had a knack for winning, whether it was at home (40-4), on the road (33-7), during the day (38-7) or at night (35-4). It was especially tough in tournament play, where a deep pitching rotation carried the Travelers to a 47-6 record and five titles in seven different tournaments.
Another feat the team accomplished was stringing together the second-longest winning streak in program history. It's run of 28 consecutive wins from June 4 to June 27 finished one game shy of the record streak of 29 games set also by the 1985 squad. The Danville Hoots of California ended the streak in Reno, NV, beating the Travelers 14-4.
The team got off to a fast start, winning 11 of their first 12 contests, including a second straight MWC Memorial Day. After that was a bit of a rough patch, a stretch in which they lost four of six games to open June before the 28-game win streak started. Ten of the wins helped claim the Traveler Shootout title in Elk City.
Next up was the trek to Pueblo. Once in Colorado, the team's offense busted loose and put together one of the most impressive showings in the tournament's 28-year history by going a perfect 7-0 with each win coming via the run-rule. It's believed that no team has ever won the 'Nuch championship in such fashion.
The final game of the 'Nuch was tougher than the score looked. After trailing 4-2 in the fifth, the Travelers got big hits from shortstop Randy Henry (two-run double) and first baseman Dean Green (three-run homer) to spark a big comeback. The surge continued as the team went on to win 13-4. Henry was picked as the tournament's top defensive player; Green was named the MVP hitter; Randy McCurry was selected as the overall MVP; Caleb Nine and Jared Broadbent were all-tourney selections.
Then it was off to Reno for the Sierra Nevada Classic. The squad started the trip with seven straight victories -- including three non-tournament contests -- before seeing its win-streak snapped at 28 to Danville, a team the Travelers had beaten 8-7 earlier in the tournament. The trip closed on a down note, as the squad let a big lead slip away to Santa Rosa, CA in a 12-10 loss, leaving the Travelers with a fourth place finish.
After rain completely washed out tournaments in Houston and Midwest City, the Travelers' next big test was their own tournament -- the Route 66 Classic at Ackley Park.
For the sixth straight year the team managed to reach the title game of the power-packed event, going 6-0 in pool play despite facing virtually every opponents' ace. A 9-1 semifinal win over the Midwest Wolverines got the Travelers into the final, which may have been the greatest single game in the tournament's 24-year history. The Travelers won the epic 11-inning battle with Durant, coming-from-behind twice while down to their final strikes. Cody Cole's RBI single in the bottom of the seventh tied the game at 5-5 to force extra innings. Then, trailing 6-5 in the bottom of the ninth, Mac Gordon tied the game again with a pinch-hit solo home run. The Travelers finally won it 7-6 when Cole's sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 11th scored Zach Cargill with the game-winner. McCurry got the win in his longest pitching appearance of the season, firing six and two-third stellar innings.
Next up, the squad challenged itself by splitting the 23-man roster into two teams for a 12-games-in-four-days gauntlet at the OSU Shootout in the Stillwater area. Working on very little sleep and playing from sun-up to sun-down, the two squads combined to win its first five games of the event to run their win streak to 18 before falling in the second game of a doubleheader to Line-Drive Baseball from Missouri, 7-5. That game was the sixth for the team in the span of 32 hours. It ended at 11pm and the Travelers were back on the field at 8am for the first of two games against the Kansas City Champions, a game it lost.
Suddenly the Travelers were staring at the possibility of its first three-game losing skid in years. But the team found a jolt of energy to stave off such a thing. His name was Dean Green. The big first-baseman stepped up with quite possibly the greatest individual game in team history to snap the two-game skid.
Trailing 7-2 in the fourth, the Travelers plated 15 runs over the final four stanzas and Green was in the middle of it all. In total, he went 4 for 4 with a walk, RBI double, two-run homer, three-run homer, grand slam and a cool 10 RBI. The game further cemented his name as one of the greatest hitters to ever wear the red jersey.
After finishing the OSU showcase off with the best record among all entrants, the team cranked out another win streak (11 games), carrying it into the season-ending Mid-America Classic in Stillwater. The team went 4-1 in the event, losing in the quarterfinals of the single-elimination bracket.
As with every team, this one had a story under the bill of every cap. The following are the players that made the 44th edition of Traveler baseball one of the greatest seasons in team history.
The 2007 team was propelled by a deep pitching staff, gifted fielders and a well-stocked lineup. There wasn't a weakness on the club, but there is no denying who the main attraction was throughout the season. The team's big first baseman from Berryhill -- team MVP Dean Green.
Berryhill, OK | 1st Base, Pitcher
Traveler coaches had their eye on Dean from his freshman year at Berryhill High School. Coaches caught up with him and the left-handed hitting one-bagger jumped at the chance to play in the program. And the rest -- as they say -- is history.
Green went on to solidly place his name next to the greats in the program's rich history. He became just the second player ever to hit over .500 for a season, besting Matt Yost's 2002 mark for highest average ever at .520. He was also just the eighth player (and first in a decade) to record more than 100 RBI with 101 on the season.
His numbers didn't stop there. Dean joined the highly exclusive 100-hit club, notching 103 on the season. He was just the fourth player in team history to record more than 30 doubles (31). He finished just three homers shy of the all-time record with 22 on the season and was the first player in history to have a slugging percentage north of 1.000.
Oh, and he didn't make a single error defensively in 327 chances.
People won't soon forget the hitting display that Green put on in Pueblo, smashing two home runs and six RBI to help beat Cherry Creek and then adding another six RBI in the championship against Merced. His most unbelievable performance came during the OSU Shootout though as in 10 games he totaled seven singles, eight doubles, eight home runs and a whopping 26 RBI.
By the end of June, Division I coaches from all over the country were consistently on the trail of the 6-3 standout thanks to a sensational start that amazingly got even better as the season went along. He signed with Oklahoma State where he should be a middle-of-the-order force for years to come.
Tupelo, OK | 3rd Base, Pitcher
Most other years, Randy McCurry's numbers would have been more than enough to steal the headlines. Simply put, he had one of the better offensive campaigns in recent memory. But even the country-strong kid from Tupelo couldn't keep pace with Green's torrid season.
Seeing time at every position on the infield, McCurry led the club in games played (71) and at-bats (212). His .439 average trailed only Green and put him in 19th place in the record books. He finished second to Green in hits (93), doubles (26), homeruns (12), RBI (83) and slugging percentage (.797). He picked up the pitching wins in the Route 66 and Pueblo finals, earning MVP honors in the latter.
While his bat was impressive, his pitching was just as potent. McCurry drew the most important role on the staff - closer - and did it with near perfection. He didn't start a single game, but led the squad in mound appearances with 23. Randy posted a 4-0 record while collecting nine saves with his 1.49 ERA. Opponents managed only a .171 batting average against him, allowing just 23 hits while fanning 58 in 38 innings pitched.
McCurry's impressive summer resonated throughout the region, as he became one of the hottest prospects in the South Plains region. He signed early with Oklahoma State and has one more season in a Traveler jersey before heading to Stillwater in the fall of 2008.
Hobart, OK | Left Field
After getting his feet wet following his junior year, the speedy Gelnar continued his progression with a fine senior campaign while becoming a mainstay in the outfield.
Jonny was good in '06, but he flat mashed the ball in '07.
The Hobart native hit .396 with 17 RBI two seasons ago, when he earned a full-time role late in the season. His production skyrocketed last summer. From the first pitch of the 2007 season, 'Jonny-G' was a force. Everything he hit was blistered, finishing the season with a .435 average while leading the team with 79 runs scored and 17 stolen bases. His 80 hits, 23 doubles and 61 runs batted in were third-best on the squad in each category (behind Green and McCurry).
Gelnar earned a scholarship to North Central Junior College. And by being such a young senior, he'll have the opportunity to return to the Traveler program after his freshman year of college.
Leedey, OK | Right Field
After four seasons on the Traveler roster, it's going to be strange to not see the hard-hitting Broadbent in the lineup in 2008. As a senior catalyst in 2007 he was the heart and soul of a unit that produced one of the most sucessful seasons in team history.
'J-rod' was the power-hitting force in the middle of the order throughout the year, and provided much needed protection for Green and McCurry in the middle of the order. He finished with a .382 average as well as being near the top of every offensive category. He blasted 17 doubles, eight triples and nine homeruns while compiling a .704 slugging percentage to go along with 73 runs scored and 51 RBI. He also picked up all-tourney honors at the Pueblo tournament and hit one of the most monstrous homeruns in Traveler history at the tournament in Reno.
As one of only a handful of players to be on the team for four consecutive seasons, Broadbent's career numbers were plentiful, to say the least. During his four-year career, Jared appeared in 210 of the team's 296 games, hitting .358 in a combined total of 528 at-bats. He tallied 172 runs, 155 RBI, 44 doubles, 14 triples and 24 homeruns overall as the team went a combined 247-49 in his career.
Jared joined his dad Lynn (player from 1980-82) in various places in the Traveler record book. The Leedey High product signed with Oklahoma State.
Arnett, OK | Shortstop
In his second full season as the starting shortstop, the Arnett High School standout showed his wares to make him one of the most coveted prospects in the region by a host of Division I colleges.
Playing in 70 of the team's 84 contests, Randy batted .313, adding to the .311 average he compiled in his 2006 debut. Henry finished the season with 51 hits, including eight doubles and three triples, while driving in 34 runs and scoring 45. His two-run double in the finals of the Pueblo tournament ended up being the game-winner against Merced, CA. He was tabbed the defensive MVP of the tournament.
Defense was again his forte, joining the team's prestigious 100-assist club for the second straight year with 124 assists en route to a .923 fielding percentage. In limited mound duty, Randy also added a 2-0 record and 3.34 earned run average.
A Texas Tech signee in the fall, expectations are even higher for the multi-talented infield catalyst during his final Traveler campaign in 2008.
Slapout, OK | Center Field
For the second straight season, the Panhandle product manned the spacious territory of centerfield at Ackley Park and was a mainstay at the top of the batting order. Nine notched 78 hits for the second straight season, which was good enough for fourth on the team. He batted .384 as a switch-hitting leadoff man and had an on-base percentage of .468.
Caleb's 12 triples led the club and tied him for the third-best mark in team history. He chipped in 47 RBI for the fifth highest on the season. Nine finished his sensational two-year career by appearing in 131 of 152 games, amassing a .391 average, 139 runs and 88 RBI.
The homeschooler earned a scholarship offer from Oklahoma State but ended up playing at Seward County JC in Kansas during his first college season.
Taloga, OK | Pitcher
The hard-throwing righthander finished off one of the best three-year pitching careers in recent history with a 10-3 record and 2.64 earned run average. Brent made 15 appearances, including a team-high 12 starts, completing two of those. He struck out 63 in 55 2/3 innings and yielded just a .224 batting average to opposing hitters.
Miller, also known as "Jack-Nine" because of his unusual strategy towards poker, had exceptional career numbers considering he routinely pitched against the stiffest competition on the schedule for three straight years. He finished with an overall record of 25-5 with a pair of saves. In over 149 career innings Brent struck out 148 hitters and notched a career ERA of 3.13.
Brent signed to pitch at Division II powerhouse Central Oklahoma (UCO).
Leedey, OK | 2nd Base
In his three year-career, Cole was never the fastest, strongest, hardest-throwing or hardest-hitting player on the team. But he turned out to be better than most of those that were with his gritty and intelligent play.
As the starting second baseman for the second straight year, Cody once again came up with big plays, big hits and was a leader on an infield of players more heralded than he. Case in point of his clutch play -- the Route 66 championship game against Durant. He saved the team from defeat by tying the game with a two-out single in the seventh inning and then provided the game-winning sacrifice fly in the 11th.
The Leedey graduate hit .349 in 53 games while contributing 45 runs and 29 RBI. He had one of the best slugging percentages on the squad for his size at .527 with 13 doubles and five triples. His 10 sacrifices were a team-best in that category.
He appeared in 134 of the team's 227 games in his three-year career, helping the squad to a 189-38 mark over that span, while batting a combined .373. Cole earned a scholarship offer at junior college power Seminole State College last summer.
El Reno, OK | Infield
One of a handful of third-year Travelers on the roster, the always-laughing Halley was a regular in the lineup and a favorite in the clubhouse. His best asset was his ability to get on base, which fueled the bottom half of the Traveler lineup all season.
Halley's walk-to-strikeout ratio was tops on the club (3 to 1) en route to a sensational .508 OBP. He collected 42 free passes compared to just 14 strikeouts in more than 170 plate appearances. He also managed a .349 average, including 55 runs scored and 42 runs batted in while splitting time between third base, shortstop and second base.
While he wasn't a scheduled starter on the mound, Joe became a clutch pitcher in a pinch, posting a 2-1 record and 2.56 earned run average. He struck out 16 and walked just four in 13 2/3 innings.
Joe appeared in 147 of the team's 227 games of his career, amassing 108 hits and 78 walks. He signed a scholarship offer at Vernon Junior College in Texas.
Washington, OK | Pitcher, Outfield
Despite not having the imposing physical stature of some of the other lefties on the squad, Roten was likely the last lefty opponents wanted to face. He baffled hitters all summer with a deceptive fastball and nasty change-up.
Traveler coaches knew in Chase's first season (2006) that he had two ingredients you want in a pitcher: consistency and an ability to pound the strike zone. He didn't let up in 2007, firing some of the most clutch games of the season on the heels of his freshman year of college (Connors State).
Roten's mound highlights included a 10-2 victory against Pueblo's ace in the Route 66 tournament and a 4-3 win over the Hawaii Dragons in the Reno tournament quarterfinals. Overall he finished with a perfect 8-0 record, leading the way with four complete games as well as a dandy 2.03 ERA. He struck out 45 and walked 10 in 40 2/3 innings, allowing the opposition only a .239 average at the plate.
He could also handle the bat, contributing a .375 average offensively with seven doubles, three triples, 30 runs scored, 19 batted in and 16 stolen bases, which was second-best on the team.
Sickles, OK | Catcher, Pitcher
Comfortable at virtually any position on the infield, Patric was most deadly in the battery. As a catcher he eliminated opposing running games with a triple threat of a rocket arm, rapid release and pinpoint accuracy. In fact, he's one of the best throwing catchers the program has ever had, and arguably the most accurate ever.
On the mound, the Lookeba-Sickles graduate followed up a fabulous 2006 campaign with another strong year as one of the team's most reliable relievers with his ability to come in and immediately throw strikes. The crafty righthander notched a 3-0 record and 2.60 ERA in 11 appearances, striking out 27 and walking just six in almost 30 full innings. He held opposing hitters to only a .232 batting average.
Tolentino made big strides at the plate, nearly doubling his average from his 16-year-old season to .344. As a 17-year-old graduate, Tolentino will be one of the club's rare college returners (Redlands).
Marlow, OK | Catcher
Skelly's 2005 and 2006 summers were wiped out because of untimely injuries, limiting him to just four at-bats total for what would have been his first two years on the team.
Dan made up for lost time in 2007 with a rock solid season behind the plate, at the dish and on the mound.
Despite splitting time behind the plate much of the season, Dan forced his way into the lineup as a designated hitter (when not catching) by swinging one of the hottest bats in the order by season's end. His blue-collar attitude toward the game made him a favorite with the coaches and helped earn a scholarship to Northern Oklahoma College.
For the season Dan finished fourth on the team with a .417 average. He tallied 48 hits and 43 runs batted in, averaging at least one hit and nearly one RBI per game played. He also went from a spot-relief pitcher early in the season to a critical part of the rotation later in the year with his ability to throw strikes, notching a 3-1 record and 3.10 earned run average in six appearances.
Oklahoma City, OK | Outfield
If not for some injury difficulties, there's no telling the numbers the hard-hitting outfielder could have put up in his debut season for the Travelers. But despite being limited to 36 games and 88 at-bats, the homeschool product from Oklahoma City produced superbly while in the lineup.
James was immediately a regular in the lineup with his outstanding speed both on the bases and in the field. He amassed a .352 batting average with 10 doubles, three triples and three homers, averaging more than one RBI per contest before suffering a leg injury midway through the year that required a couple months of rest.
Harrah, OK | 2nd Base
Bilyeu made the most of his one year on the team. As the first player to ever tryout from Harrah High School, Garrett figured to be the odd-man out in the middle-infield mix with so many starting veterans returning. But the lefty-swinging senior carved a nice niche for himself.
Garrett, or 'Dorn', as he was affectionately known by teammates, had a knack for coming off the bench with hits. He worked his way into the lineup more regularly as the season went along, ultimately appearing in more than half the team's games. He finished with a .395 average and 25 RBI in more than 100 plate appearances. He went to play for Lon Morris Junior College in Texas after the summer.
El Reno, OK | Pitcher
After showing flashes of greatness during the 2006 season, Maune became one of the team's star pitchers during a flawless 2007 season. By mid-season it was clear that once Clint took the mound, the Travelers were going to win that game.
He frustrated hitters all summer with his easy, fluid motion combined with a dominant fastball and wicked curveball. The 6-5 southpaw posted a perfect 10-0 record, winning every one of his 10 starts, three of which were complete-game efforts. His 1.38 ERA was the best on the team as were his team-high 78 strikeouts. In 56 innings of work he allowed a miniscule 37 hits and just 11 earned runs. Opponents could only manage a .182 average off the El Reno graduate.
Maune's best outing of the season arguably came in the Sierra Nevada Classic in Reno as he struck out 12 and scattered five hits in six innings during a 9-1 victory over Mountain View, Idaho.
Clint went from being a bit of an unknown three years ago, to earning a scholarship from Wichita State, where he will likely contribute immediately as a freshman.
Washington, OK | Utility, Pitcher
Mac was the quintessential utility player in his first and only campaign with the Travelers. The type of player every team can use. He played outfield, infield, catcher and pitched at various times throughout the 84-game slate.
The Washington High School All-Stater batted .333 with 21 runs scored and 21 RBI while chipping in seven doubles and three home runs for a .538 slugging percentage. He was a solid arm on the mound as well, sporting a 1-1 record and 3.23 earned run average while averaging nearly a strikeout per inning.
Gordon etched his name in Traveler lore with his pinch-hit solo homerun in the ninth inning to tie the Route 66 championship against Durant en route to a thrilling 7-6 Traveler victory in 11 innings.
Thanks to his assortment of talents on the field, Mac earned a scholarship at North Central Texas College in Gainesville.
Elk City, OK | Pitcher, Infield
Much like Clint Maune, Fisher came in as an unheralded pitching prospect and has quickly developed into a potential front-of-the-rotation arm. The 6-5 righthander was one of the squad's most reliable relievers in 2007, making 15 total appearances while posting a 2-1 record and a save with a 2.84 ERA. He also held opponents to a .186 batting average while hording attention from scouts who love his imposing frame.
Fisher's most impressive outing of the season may have actually been in a start against the Kansas City Sluggers. With the Traveler lineup shorthanded, he stepped up with a complete game, four-hit masterpiece in an 8-1 victory at Oklahoma State.
Not just a pitcher, Fisher has pop at the plate, and could be a big offensive threat next season. He hit .310 with 10 extra base hits in 79 at-bats. And he's athletic, making him adept at numerous positions.
Amarillo, TX | Pitcher
Traveler coaches pretty much had Cook pegged as a star of the future all they way back to the summer after his freshman year in high school. The future arrived in 2007 as the hard-throwing Texan blossomed into one of the aces of the staff with a sensational campaign.
With outstanding breaking stuff to go with his command of an overpowering fastball, Cook joined Miller as the righthanded stars of the rotation. He missed the final three weeks of the season with an injury but still notched tremendous numbers with a 9-1 record and 2.85 ERA while fanning 64 in 46 2/3 innings.
Clayton's most impressive outing of the season arguably came against the best hitting lineup the Travelers faced all year, allowing just one earned run on three hits with 11 strikeouts in a victory over Danville, California in the Reno tournament.
Even more is expected from the Amarillo High School standout in 2008. After that he will begin his college career in Norman, having signed with the Sooners.
Elk City, OK | Pitcher
A two-year performer, Hayden jumped from seeing limited action in '06 to a regular in the 2007 rotation. His work on the mound was as reliable as his entertainment on the road. Daugherty was one of the most popular players in the clubhouse with his humor and guitar/singing skills.
In nine games, the Elk City native put up solid numbers across the board, finishing his final campaign with a 5-0 record and 2.87 ERA with one complete game. He struck out 25 in 31 2/3 innings and earned a scholarship to Garden City Junior College.
Arnett, OK | Pitcher, Utility
Christenson was the only 2007 player to be selected in the June draft (35th round), and while he didn't have as good of a year as he had hoped, he still found ways to produce at a multitude of positions, whether it was on the mound, in the outfield or filling in for Dean Green at first base.
On the mound he made six starts and completed two of those while posting a 2-1 record and 5.37 earned run average. He saved his best performance for his last mound start, firing a complete-game six-hitter with eight strikeouts in a 7-4 win over the Wichita Sluggers.
Ryan hit just .246 but was an elite defensive player at first base and in the outfield. He also may have been the smartest player on the roster, by way of having the highest ACT score on the team. That helped him earn a scholarship to play ball at the University of Nebraska.
Washington, OK | Pitcher
When Zach Cargill's curveball was on, it was lights out for the opposition. The 6-3 lefty was expected to be near the top of the rotation before the season even started and he didn't disappoint, succeeding as one of the club's big-game pitchers in tournament situations.
The crafty southpaw utilized his nasty stuff to post one of the best strikeout ratios on the club with 64 Ks in just 40 2/3 innings. He finished with a 7-1 record, including two complete games, while compiling a 2.24 earned run average before leaving the team in late July. He moved on to the University of Nebraska in the fall before transferring to Cowley County Junior College in the spring.
Bossier City, LA | Outfield
Johnson became the first Traveler ever from Louisiana and turned heads with his incredible physical stature on the field, which included a tremendous blend of speed and power.
While he never managed to secure a starting spot in the lineup, Ray did improve his overall game while splitting time in all three outfield positions. He posted a .311 average at the plate and .467 slugging percentage, finishing with 10 doubles and two triples while scoring 34 runs and driving in 16.
Verden, OK | Pitcher
Wilson never got a clean break at the start of the season. He started sluggish and soon thereafter learned that illness (mono) was the culprit.
After missing three weeks, he returned to action, but spent the rest of the season working to fully get his strength back to form. He still was able to produce for the club, notching a 2-0 record and 5.46 earned run average in 10 appearances, six of which were starts. He tallied 23 strikeouts in 16 2/3 innings, but he also walked 21 batters.
Cyril, OK | Pitcher
The hard-throwing righthander may have set a record for shortest stint ever in a Traveler uniform. After tryouts, the Cyril graduate made just one appearance on the season before signing a pro contract with the Florida Marlins.
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