Those four letters hold a special meaning to the 2013 Verdigris Cardinals baseball team.
For the past two seasons, the Cardinals have used ‘W.T.L.G.’ as their motivation toward building a baseball dynasty.
Inside the dugout — from March to May — these Cardinals believe in ‘Winning The Last Game’.
For this year’s senior class — led by outfielder Tanner Smith and shortstop/pitcher Blake Battenfield, Verdigris has produced back-to-back state championships in Class 3A.
In 2012, the Cardinals rallied to beat Metro Christian, 6-5 for their second state championship and finished the season with a 30-4 overall record.
In 2011, the Cardinals rolled past Eufaula, 8-2 to claim the 3A state championship and recorded a 32-8 overall record.
Under the leadership of head coach Brian Keith and assistant coach Scott Smith, the Cardinals’ baseball program has produced a two-year overall recorded of 62-12.
The senior class gears up for their final season, looking to bring a 3-peat back to Verdigris.
For Smith and Battenfield, and the other seniors, the diamond is where dreams come true.
On Saturday, the road toward the 3-peat starts for this experienced group of Cardinals.
With Battenfield and Ryan Skalnik still chasing those title dreams on the basketball court in the 3A Area Tournament, the Cardinals will open the season against Nowata without their ace pitcher/shortstop and starting third baseman.
Smith, however, returns for his fourth year in center field, and will be looked upon for leadership and ‘pop’ in the Cardinals’ lineup.
Blessed with blazing speed, Smith provides the Cardinals with a potent weapon in the outfield.
Also, sharing time in the outfield will be senior Ryan Hurd and senior J.W. Owens.
Hurd and Smith helped spark the Cardinals’ football team to the second-round of the Class 3A state playoffs and a 10-2 overall record.
Smith amassed 2,282 rushing yards and scored 31 touchdowns as the Cardinals’ four-year starting tailback.
This season, the Cardinals’ infield will consist of Skalnik at third base, Battenfield at shortstop, Kale Keith at second base and Mitch Hammack at first base.
Behind the plate, sophomore Riley Kelzor and Hammack will share catching duties.
The 2013 Cardinals roster includes: Blake Battenfield, SS, Sr., Gabe Rodery, 1B/OF/LHP, Fr., Ryan Hurd, OF/RHP, Sr., Ryan Skalnik, 3B/RHP, Jr., Reece Phillips, OF/RHP, Soph., Mitch Hammack, 1B/C/RHP, Soph., Nathan Green, OF, Soph., Trey Weiesnbach, OF/C/RHP, Fr., Riley Kelzor, C/1B/RHP, Soph., Nathan Nadal, OF, Fr., Kale Keith, 2B/OF/RHP, Soph., Blake Stone, 3B/1B/OF, Soph., Caleb Ayers, 2B, Soph., Tanner Smith, OF/RHP, Sr., Trevor Moyer, 1B/OF/LHP, Fr., J.W. Owens, OF/RHP, Sr., Dalton Turner, OF, Fr., Sam Hill, 1B/RHP/C, Soph. and Peyton Battenfield, 2B/RHP, Fr.
Verdigris opens baseball season Saturday against Nowata
'Twice as Nice'
When it comes to the 3A State Tournament and Oklahoma City, the Verdigris High School basketball teams are a household name.
Head coaches Randy Upshaw and Mike Buntin lead their programs back to the 'Capitol City' this week for a chance to hoist the coveted 3A state championship on Saturday night at the Big House.
Cards fly into 3A State Tournament
Verdigris junior guard Cade Upshaw lives for March Madness.
The 5-foot-10 sharp-shooter overcame a sluggish performance in a loss to Tahlequah Sequoyah to bounce back for a 20-point outing in the Cardinals’ 72-42 win over Antlers Saturday evening in the Class 3A Area Tournament at Checotah Event Center.
CLASS 4A AREA TOURNEY: Vinita eliminates Inola
Vinita used an 18-point third quarter — highlighted by the sophomore leadership of Carsyn Spurgeon — and converted 21-of-34 free throws to notch a 61-55 win over the Inola Lady Longhorns Saturday night in the Class 4A Area Tournament.
‘Soaring to State’
In the hometown of Carrie Underwood, Verdigris senior point guard Baileigh O’Dell proved to be Oklahoma’s ‘Basketball Idol’ in Class 3A Girls Basketball.
The 5-foot-8 floor general put the No. 4-ranked Lady Cardinals on her shoulders and carried Verdigris back to the the state tournament with the 53-40 win over No. 5 Tahlequah Sequoyah Friday night in the Area Championship at the Checotah Event Center.
CLASS 4A AREA TOURNEY: Stilwell advances to State
A jam-packed, vocal crowd — aided by the control of several Claremore Police officers — witnessed Stilwell’s come-from-behind 57-51 win over Harrah Saturday night in the must-win game of the Class 4A Area Tournament at the Claremore High School Gymnasium.
SOFTBALL: Arkansas cruises past Miss. Valley State
The University of Arkansas softball team completed an undefeated run through the Razorback Invitational Sunday afternoon win with a 13-5 victory over Mississippi Valley State at Bogle Park.
AAC WOMEN'S BB TOURNEY: No. 1 UConn routs No. 3 Louisville for title
New league, same result. It's another championship for UConn.
Breanna Stewart scored 20 points and top-ranked Connecticut beat No. 3 Louisville 72-52 on Monday night to win the inaugural American Athletic Conference tournament.
BIG 12 WOMEN'S BB TOURNEY: Sims leads Baylor to championship
Nothing was going to stop Odyssey Sims.
Not her early foul trouble, West Virginia's suffocating defense or the left ankle injury she suffered less than t wo minutes into the Big 12 championship game.
Sims, the Big 12 player of the year, bounced back and scored 15 of her 19 points in the second half to help No. 9 Baylor defeat No. 7 West Virginia 74-71 Monday night and earn an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. It was Sims' fourth championship in four years.
BIG 12 WOMEN'S BB: Kansas State fires coach Deb Patterson
Kansas State has fired women's basketball coach Deb Patterson, announcing the move two days after an opening-round loss in the Big 12 tournament.
NCAA MEN'S BB: Florida, Wichita State stay 1-2 in AP poll
Florida, which finished an unbeaten season in the Southeastern Conference, and Wichita State, which completed an undefeated regular season, are the top two teams in the AP college basketball poll for the third straight week.
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