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Baseball Spartans Hope to Overcome Injuries

By MIKE MOGUIN
Sports Writer

PLAY BALL: This Bixby hitter swings for the fence against Jenks earlier this season.


Courtesy of Bixby Spartans Baseball


Bixby is faced with detours in its baseball season as it is been hit with the injury bug.

The Spartans, 29-9 in 2016, and 5-2 as of March 18, were expected to have six starters back, a strength for the 2017 season. But at press time they are minus their two Division-I players, Tanner Griffin and Cade Cavalli, who are out with injuries.

Griffin, an Oklahoma State commit who quarterbacked the football team to its third straight 6AII state championship this past fall, is out for the season with shoulder injuries. Griffin has played pitcher, catcher and shortstop in the past for Bixby.

Cavalli, an Oklahoma commit, has had some issues with his back and arm. He has played but has been limited.

“He started the Jenks game (season opener, March 2) and only played defense,” says Glenn Sullivan, who is in his third year as coach. “(Cavalli) only played two innings in the second game and will probably be out until about Mid-April. The injury bug has hurt us.

“The team is a little different than what we thought it would be,” Sullivan says.
However, expectations have not changed.

The Spartans, who lost the regional final last year to Stillwater, have other returning starters who are solid. Making state and winning remains the goal.

Two-year starter Nic Swanson (third baseman/short stop) returns, as well as three-year starter Jeremy Goodwin (third baseman) and two-year starter Cole Parker (second baseman).

Swanson, also a receiver on the Spartan football team, is expected to have some time on the hill.

“Nic is doing a great job,” Sullivan says. “He is going to pitch for us. He is going to play everywhere, third base and outfield. He’ll do a great job for us.”

Parker will be used as the lead-off man in the batting order.

“He’ll do a great job for us. He can run and understands what we’re trying to do,” Sullivan says.

Goodwin, a .300 hitter, is expected to alternate as designated hitter, at third base and first base.

“With that experience coming back, it hurts to lose those top guys when you have two D-I players that aren’t playing for you,” Sullivan says. “But the other experience will help lead some of these younger guys. At the end of the season, hopefully, we can grow and be strong in the end.”

Then, replacements are needed to fill spots vacated by stalwart players like Cade Cabbiness, Gavin Staton, Breydon Daniel and Braden Hackler, who graduated last year. Three of them played in the outfield.

“It’s always tough to replace experience,” Sullivan says. “But you just have to go play. You just got to go be with the guys you have and that’s what we do. We believe in what we do, we want the kids to understand the game and know how to play the game and be prepared for every situation and go compete and that’s what we’ll do.”

Junior Tucker Pawley, who is tailback on the football team, returns after being out last year due to a shoulder injury. He’ll be playing outfield, shortstop and third base.
There is also a strong core of young players the Spartans are excited about.

There is freshman Jaxson Crull who is starting centerfield and junior Matthew Henderson, a returning starter who was an outfielder last season but is going to start a lot at catcher this season.

There is also Jake Bennett, a sophomore who has already committed to the University of Oklahoma, who will be pitching.

“He’ll be on the mound for us too and that’s what OU wants him for,” Sullivan says.
“These guys are young, but they’re going to step up and grow in learning and understanding the game,” Sullivan says. “At the end, their talent will shine and will have a chance to compete with the likes of Union, Broken Arrow, Owasso, Deer Creek and so forth, at the end of the season.

“We’re always going to shoot for the moon,” Sullivan says. “I don’t believe in playing in any other way. We got good players who are young players and have to develop. Baseball is a crazy game. You just never know what’s going to happen.”

Updated 04-06-2017

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