By Ronn Rowland
Phoenix Sports Writer
Looking to return to the thrilling days of yesteryear, the Vian Wolverines baseball team is priming itself for a deep run in the postseason.
The Wolverines, No. 2 in the Okrankings.com Class 3A poll, are 15-1 after Monday’s 9-4 win over Class B No. 1 Red Oak, the sixth win by the Wolverines over a team that was ranked in the top-10 in its respective class at the time of the meeting.
“We try to schedule tough every year,” said Vian coach John Brockman. “I’m from the school of belief that if you don’t play tough people, it doesn’t prepare you very well for the playoffs.”
The top goal for this year’s team is making an appearance in the state tournament, something a Vian team has not accomplished since 2007.
Senior Shawn Troutman, who has 41 strikeouts in 28 innings pitched, is 6-0 on the mound and wants to end that drought in his final campaign in a Wolverines’ uniform.
“I’ve been keeping it going from last year,” he said. “We all know that this is the year to do it. We’ve got a bunch of seniors on this team pushing everyone else. None of us have been to state and it means a whole lot.”
One player who is having a breakout year is Rylee Simon. The sophomore is 4-0 on the mound and leading Vian at the plate, batting .500 (22-for-44) with 29 runs batted in. Simon knows that if it weren’t for players like Landon Decker, a Connors State signee, and Dalton Morris, who lead off the offensive attack, his run production would be down.
“It’s very important to have those two guys at the top,” Simon said. “Landon is having a phenomenal year and is a good lead-off hitter because he draws a lot of walks. Dalton is doing a great job of finding holes and laying down bunts.”
Two players that the team relies on heavily are catcher Dan Weer, who has one passed ball and allowed only five stolen bases, and bullpen specialist Brett Hooper, who sports a 2-0 record and has two saves.
“Dan has had one passed ball this season and has a good arm which eliminates the running game,” Brockman said. “Brett comes in a lot of games when we need to shut the other team down.
“The game against Leedey (the championship game of the Ripley tournament, won by Vian 6-5) is a perfect example. We had to pull our starter and Brett came on a killed the threat, preserving the win.”
For Simon, how the seniors, like his older brother Rowdy who is batting .410 with 13 runs scored and 12 RBIs, carry themselves rubs off on the rest of the team.
“The great motivation is this is their last year,” Simon said. “We see they really want to win this and we want to help them any way we can.”
However, Brockman has kept his guys focused on the task at hand and how to achieve all the goals the team set at the beginning of the season.
“There’s a lot of steps you need to take before you get to state,” Brockman said. “First you need to win the district, then the regional. You can’t look ahead because if you don’t do those first ones, you can’t get there.”