By Mike Kays
Phoenix Sports Editor
Now that the drought is over — Vian’s back in the state baseball tournament for the first time since 2007 — the hope is for a temporary drought over the city of Edmond.
No. 2 Vian plays ninth-ranked Stroud at 1:30 p.m. today at Edmond Deer Creek High School as part of the elite eight in the Class 3A tournament. A 65 percent chance of rain is in the forecast — not the best news for those who remember the last trip.
That state trip took four days to get in one game — Vian was slated to play Perry in one of four quarterfinals. It was rained out Thursday evening in the originally scheduled slot, rescheduled for the following morning. A morning thunderstorm quashed that plan and shifted the game 60 miles southwest to Chickasha in search of dry ground. Down there, they got three innings in when a small isolated cell prompted a downpour at the field only to be bone-dry up town.
Finally on Monday, the teams completed the game, Perry prevailing, in Broken Arrow.
Dan Weer, a sixth-grader then, had his memory jogged by the recollection Wednesday prior to a practice session.
“I do remember hearing about it now that you mentioned it. My cousin (Chris Peoples) played on that team,” he said.
“That was some kind of crazy,” Brockman said. “I hope we don’t have to go through something like that, but all I know is unlike last week, I don’t have to work on the field so I’m not going to pay a lot of attention to it. We’ll just go where they tell us to.”
Last week’s regional, like the last time Vian got to state, was stretched past the weekend due to weather issues. But the Wolverines swept their way through it, capping the regional with a 10-2 win over Morris on Monday for their 16th consecutive victory, riding a blended mix of timely hitting, spot-hitting pitching and crunch-time defense.
“There’s times where we haven’t hit as well as I thought we should and we don’t have a guy who can throw in the high 80s, low 90s on the mound. We’ve had to deal with playing defense and putting the rock where we needed it, something that’s not as easy as some think it is,” Brockman said.
And it’s a deep staff — with senior Shawn Troutman (11-0), junior Jon Andrews (9-1), senior Rowdy Simon (7-0) and senior Brett Hooper (3-0, four saves). Weer, who has caught some of them since the sixth grade, has a good feel for helping them hit those necessary spots.
“The pitchers have been great but our defense has been there equally,” he said. “The seniors know what is expected of them, the pitchers know how to handle situations and our defense behind them knows they have to make plays to help pitchers out and get them out of jams.”
Brockman likes his pitching depth as one part of being able to navigate a tighter tournament schedule, such as the Friday-Saturday format two years ago when Thursday’s games were called when the tarp at Edmond Santa Fe was left off the field in overnight rains. In that tournament, Verdigris was able to keep its ace eligible for the semifinal and final by holding him to five innings in the quarterfinal game. He ended up totaling 14 innings of work. Eufaula, favored to win state that year after a semifinal appearance the year before, had their ace, Brady Colbert, throw seven in a close quarterfinal with Chandler. Because he went the distance in the first game, he could not throw a pitch the next day.
“When you play Friday and two Saturday, that eliminates one guy winning every game and thankfully, we have a little depth so we don’t have to depend on one guy,” Brockman said.
And in all classifications now, it’s one-and-done if you lose. Classes 6A and 5A have eliminated the double-elimination format.
“We’ve never had it but I think double-elimination crowns the best team because the kid who threw all those innings normally wouldn’t be able to do it in double elimination. I think there was a kid from Coweta a few years ago who threw 5, 5 and 5 and stayed eligible but there’s not a lot who can do that,” Brockman said.
“But we know what it takes and it’s the same for everyone. You’ve got to have your three best games and there’s no team up here that’s not here for a reason, so we’re just going to go take care of ourselves.”
And hope the weather cooperates.
The winner gets winner between No. 3 Marlow (31-4) and Kingston (24-9) at 1:30 p.m. Friday, at Edmond Santa Fe. The championship is noon Saturday at Edmond Santa Fe.
On the other side of the bracket, two-time champion and No. 1 Verdigris (29-2) goes against unranked Oklahoma Christian, which won the 3A football title last fall, and No. 4 Spiro (27-6) plays No. 5 Salina (25-9). Vian beat Spiro twice this season.