By Mike Moguin
GTR Sports Writer
No matter what options lie before you, there comes a time when relying on experience is the best choice.
That was the case for Owasso baseball player Matt Turpin. The senior Ram designated hitter chose Oklahoma City University as his college destination and signed a letter of intent last month.
“Both of the coaches there have been there for 30-plus years,” Turpin said. “At a lot of D-I colleges, you’re not going to find that. The hitting coach Keith Lytle is a very well known hitting coach. He used to be the hitting coach for the Oklahoma City team when they were known as the RedHawks. I really like that since I’m a position player and a hitter.”
The Stars’ head coach is Denney Crabaugh, who has coached the program since 1989 and led it to a national championship in 2005. Lytle came on board two years later. With Lytle assisting Crabaugh, OCU has 1,336 victories since 1991, the most of any college baseball program in that time frame.
Turpin began making inroads with the program last summer.
“I actually got to talking with the coach and he gave us his number and told us to call him if I ever wanted to come down for a visit,” Turpin said. “So, we called him up, came down for the visit and started talking to him. He took us on a visit to the college and everything just seemed right. The baseball team, of course, but, the business school, which is what I want to major in, and the overall feel of the campus were the reason I decided this was the place for me.”
What also helps is that a friend and former teammate, Chris Bennefield, is already there.
“It’s always good to know there is someone you know there,” Turpin said.
Turpin chose OCU over Eastern Oklahoma State and UCO. He grew up around the game of baseball. His father, Frosty, played for the Rams with current coach Larry Turner in the 1970s.
“I like the strategy of it, such as situations like what inning is it, what’s the count, how many outs, runners on base, I just love playing baseball,” he said.
In addition to being designated hitter, Turpin is also a backup third baseman for the Rams.
“As a DH, I love hitting,” he said. “At third base, I’ve always liked the quick reactions. At Oklahoma City, they had me workout at first base a little bit, so that could be a possibility. I also have a little bit of outfield experience. They have tried me out at all those positions.”
Ultimately, Turpin hopes to join the ranks of many former Ram standouts like Dylan Bundy and Pete Kozma, who are now playing Major League Baseball.
One season remains for Turpin at Owasso, which means more memories to be made.
But so far, he said, his favorite high school memory on the diamond came last year when the Rams were playing in Florida.
“It was my first opportunity playing on varsity,” Turpin said. “I made my first varsity hit of my career, which was a home run. That is one that sticks out the most to me. It would have been special any other place, but, it was cool doing it down in Florida.”
Owasso has not won a state championship since 2015. Since then, the Rams have been ousted in the first and second rounds at state. That is something Turpin and his teammates want to change this spring.
“This year, we just all need to stick together,” he said. “We need to play as a family and try to stay healthy. Right now, we’re dealing with some injuries but everyone should be back relatively fast. That’s the main thing: staying healthy and playing together as family.”