The Claremore Zebras and junior right-handed pitcher Bryce Howe are on a mission to get back to the Class 5A State Finals.
Howe, who anchors the Zebra pitching staff, comes into today’s Metro Lakes Conference battle against Coweta with a 5-1 record and a 0.20 earned run average.
The No. 2-ranked Zebras (14-3) visits No. 9 Coweta (8-3) for a 4 p.m. contest with huge conference implications on the line.
Currently, the Zebras sit atop the conference standings with a 6-0 record, sweeping Skiatook, East Central and Booker T. Washington.
Claremore also has beaten Metro Lakes Conference opponents Grove and Booker T. Washington in the Tiger/Zebra Classic, but those wins don’t count toward the conference race.
Since returning from the 20th Annual Tate Aggie Classic in Pensacola, Fla., the Zebras are a much-more explosive team.
The return of junior starting catcher Matt Whatley to the lineup as well as Howe’s offensive prowess in the No. 4 hole has the Zebras averaging 9.8 runs in the last five games.
Claremore’s Whatley and Howe have combined for three homers since Spring Break.
During the Tiger/Zebra Classic, in which Claremore defeated Booker T. Washington 8-0 for the championship, Howe dominated on the mound and in the batter’s box.
Howe’s last outing — the win over Booker T. Washington — saw the 6-foot-2 junior hurler record eight strikeouts with two hits allowed and no walks in six innings pitched.
On the year, Howe has appeared in 30-plus innings and has tallied 54 strikeouts with only six walks.
Today, though, Howe faces a Coweta lineup that can be very dangerous and led by senior third baseman/pitcher Hayden Holmes.
In 11 games, Coweta has scored 95 total runs for an average of 8.6 per game.
So far this spring, the Tigers are 4-1 at home with three of the four wins coming in conference play against Booker T. Washington (9-8), East Central (17-1) and Tahlequah (6-5).
Coweta’s record in conference stands at 6-2 overall.
Over Spring Break, Coweta dropped a 4-1 decision to Class 4A No. 2 Catoosa in the Bixby Spartan Invitational. They also defeated Edison, 5-0 in the tourney.
Note: Claremore is 5-0 on the road this season.