Claremore Daily Progress

Sports

June 3, 2014

Claremore’s Howe, Whatley, Wood earn All-Region honors

CLAREMORE — High School baseball season in Rogers County found one team with its fourth-straight state title, while two others were state semifinalists.

For the Verdigris Cardinals, this past season was one to remember.

With only one senior — third baseman Ryan Skalnik — the Cardinals closed out the 4-peat with a 2-0 win over Kansas in the Class 3A state finals at Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City.

Skalnik’s leadership helped Verdigris finish 31-6 on the season.

The Claremore Zebras, under veteran head coach Brent Payne, advanced to the Class 5A State Semifinals where they lost 10-0 to Edmond Deer Creek.

With seven seniors — including four-year starting catcher Matt Whatley — the Zebras capped off their season with a 27-10 overall record.

The Catoosa Indians also reached the Class 4A State Tournament for the second-straight year, and lost to Tuttle, 3-2 in the semifinals at Edmond Santa Fe High School.

Catoosa finished its season with a 25-12 overall record.

Skalnik, along with Claremore High School graduates Bryce Howe, T.J. Wood, Matt Whatley and Catoosa High School graduates Corbin Osburn and Nick Brown earned Large School East All-Region 3 recognition.

Claremore Sequoyah graduate McKaine Foster also received all-region honors as a pitcher.

* * *

Claremore’s Whatley, a four-year letterwinner and starting catcher, turned in an impressive senior season after anchoring a pitching staff led by senior ace T.J. Wood and junior left-hander Cameron Smith.

Whatley, who signed with Oral Roberts University in November 2013, made 37 starts this season and produced 46 hits in 114 at-bats for a .404 batting average.

In the lead-off spot in Claremore’s lineup, Whatley led the team with five triples. He also had 33 singles, seven doubles and one home run with 32 RBIs and 45 runs scored.

Howe, who also signed with ORU in November 2013 and returned to the Claremore lineup in April while recovering from a back injury, appeared in 23 games with 40 hits in 64 at-bats for a .625 batting average.

Howe led the Zebras with 12 doubles and four home runs, while also amassing 24 singles for 48 RBIs and 27 runs scored.

In those 64 at-bats, Howe only struck out eight times, while drawing 15 walks.

Howe also led the Zebras with 20 2-out RBIs.

Defensively, Wood was perfect on the mound, finishing his second varsity season for the Zebras with a 12-0 record.

Wood, who signed with Crowder JC, appeared in 58 innings and had 73 strikeouts with 28 walks. Wood’s earned run average was 1.32.

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