Area teams enter state rated No. 1
BY MIKE BROWN World Sports Writer
Tuesday, May 08, 2012
5/08/12 at 5:31 AM
The Broken Arrow, Berryhill and Verdigris baseball teams have come full circle.
Each returns to the state tournament as the No. 1 team in its classification. But not all are in the same circumstance.
Broken Arrow and Verdigris are defending 6A and 3A champs, respectively, but Berryhill lost in the first round of the 4A tournament last year. The Chiefs are hoping for a better ending this time.
All three teams will be in action Thursday as the final high school weekend unfolds at five state tournament sites around the state.
Broken Arrow faces Moore at 11 a.m. in a 6A first-round game at Claremore's Legion Park.
Berryhill plays Heritage Hall at 11 a.m. in a 4A first-round game at Shawee's Ed Skelton Field.
Verdigris faces Spiro at 6:30 p.m. in the last of four first-round games in the 3A tourney at Edmond Memorial High School.
Berryhill is making its third straight state tourney appearance, but with probably the youngest team coach Brian Hailey has fielded for a while.
"It's just a great young group, and the best news is that we have good seniors (including shortstop Dyce Applegate and center fielder Adam Dolan) who have been there before and know what to expect," Hailey said.
The Chiefs also have one of the state's top starting pitchers. Hailey said 6-foot-3 junior Zach Jackson is averaging almost 16 strikeouts per game.
Verdigris is making its fourth appearance in Brian Keith's six seasons, and so far, the Cardinals are acting like they've been there before.
"You can see it in their mindset. When we won the regional title, there were no high fives. They just shook hands and went on," Keith said.
"Last year, winning the regional was a grind. Salina had a pretty good ball club. They beat us to force the `if' game and when we won it the next day, you would have thought we had won the state championship right there."
Salina has a good team again, and without having to qualify through Verdigris' regional, the Wildcats found their way to the state tournament as well. They join Metro Christian among Tulsa area teams in the 3A field. Berryhill is joined by Oologah and Hilldale representing the Tulsa area in the 4A tournament.
Broken Arrow thundered to the 6A title last year, led by Archie Bradley and a powerful senior-dominated lineup. A largely new cast has taken over in 2012, with similar success. The Tigers have been ranked No. 1 all season.
The 6A state tourney at Claremore has four first-round games involving area teams. No. 8 Jenks faces No. 4 Yukon at 1:30 p.m.; No. 2 Owasso takes on No. 15 Edmond North at 4 p.m, and No. 6 Stillwater plays No. 3 Edmond Santa Fe at 6:30.
No. 2 Claremore opens the 5A tournament at the Union Baseball Complex at 11 a.m., taking on No. 7 Shawnee. Skiatook faces No. 1 Carl Albert at 1:30 p.m.
Mike Brown 918-581-8390
Berryhill starting pitcher Zach Jackson is averaging 15 strikeouts per game. He and his Berryhill teammates play Heritage Hall in a Class 4A state meet opener. MICHAEL WYKE / Tulsa World