What has gotten into Claremore senior right fielder Isaac Hollihan?
Hollihan’s third-inning grand slam in Thursday’s 5-2 win over Booker T. Washington proved to be the spark needed to keep Claremore on pace for an undefeated season in Metro Lakes Conference play.
After going down in his first at-bat against Booker T. Washington’s Evan Skaggs, Hollihan fell behind 1-2 in the count his second time around.
That fourth pitch, however, was not only a crowd-pleaser, but it was a ‘thing of beauty’ as it left Hollihan’s bat and soared over the Walmart sign in right field at Legion Field.
“At first, I didn’t think it was gone. I thought it was either a sacrifice fly ball or off the wall,” Hollihan said.
The feeling, though, was incredible, according to Claremore’s No. 5 hitter.
Hollihan’s grand slam was the first of his varsity career in a live game. The senior has belted out numerous bombs in practice, and even hit the only homer in batting practice at an Arkansas showcase this past fall at Baum Stadium in Fayettevile.
The timing of his grand slam, however, helped Claremore generate four runs in the third inning and take a 5-0 lead.
Hollihan said he was looking for another curveball down 1-2 in the count.
Skaggs delivered Hollihan a left-handed hook and the rest was history, including the Hornets starting pitcher’s day on the mound.
Until Hollihan’s bomb, Skaggs had kept Claremore’s offense in check with one run on two hits in 2 1/3 innings.
Hollihan added that he attributes his success at the plate to his coaches.
“Coach (Brent) Payne and Coach (Jim) Sherl have been working on my swing all season and sending me footage of my swings for me to study,” Hollihan said.
The lessons have paid off as Hollihan increased his home run total to three Friday with a pair of bombs in the Zebras’ 6-4 win at Booker T. Washington.
Claremore rode the momentum of starting pitcher Bryce Howe early Thursday afternoon, as the junior right-hander retired the Hornets in order with three-straight strikeouts.
Running his fastball across the plate in the high 80s, Howe was untouchable until the top of the third inning.
Claremore helped ease the pressure of Howe’s outing with a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first and four more in the third to go ahead 5-0.
Howe helped his cause in the first with an RBI-single that scored leadoff-hitter Cole Weiesnbach from second base. Weiesnbach reached base on the walk.
After Howe retired the Hornets’ first five batters on strikeouts, Skaggs got a piece of Howe’s fastball and laced a grounder to shortstop (Cole) Weiesnbach, who fielded the ball and fired to first baseman Jacob Teague.
Skaggs, however, reached base after the throw from Weiesnbach to Teague was high.
Teague made up for the error moments later when he dove to his right and snagged a scorching ground ball off the bat of Bobby Cox for the unassisted putout that capped the top half of the second.
T.J. Wood got Claremore’s second hit of the game — a single between shortstop and third base and then advanced two bases on wild pitches from Skaggs.
Claremore’s inning, however, ended on Weiesnbach’s flyout to deep center field.
Trailing 1-0 in the top of the third, the Hornets got their first runner on base when Seamus Ryan-Johnson tagged Howe’s breaking ball for a single to center field.
Claremore’s defense backed up Howe with strong play by third baseman Tyler Cagle to cap the inning.
The Zebras’ dramatic third inning pushed the margin to 5-0, and the Hornets chipped away with one run in the sixth and another run in the seventh.
Howe tossed six strong innings to improve to 3-0 on the season. He finished with 13 strikeouts on four hits with one walk.
“Right now, I believe that our success comes from playing as a team and not playing for ourselves,” Hollihan said. “We just find ways to win.”
The Zebras are 8-0 on the season and 4-0 in Metro Lakes Conference action.
Claremore’s senior right fielder smashes grand slam, 2 homers against BTW
Patel named RSU men's basketball assistant coach
Rogers State University head men’s basketball coach Justin Barkley named Vinay Patel the new assistant men’s basketball coach on Monday.
“I am very excited about bringing Vinay on board,” Barkley said. “He brings invaluable experience to the program as he is a well-respected recruiter and his NCAA Division II resume is a perfect fit as we continue our transition to become a full-NCAA Division II member.”
Verdigris senior point guard Baileigh O’Dell capped off a stellar four-year prep basketball career with Tulsa World 2nd-Team All-State recognition.
O’Dell, a 5-foot-5 floor general that will compete for the Lamar University Lady Cardinals in the Southland Conference next season, was one of five girls basketball players from Rogers County to earn All-State accolades.
Claremore senior point guard Kaleigh Cox, Inola senior point guard Lexi Williams, Verdigris senior guard Caitlyn Hanslovan and Verdigris freshman forward Keara Battenfield were named to the honorable mention squad.
SOCCER: Lady Zebras ranked 4th in Class 5A poll
Strong senior leadership and a talented core of underclassmen have kept the Claremore Lady Zebras on a nine-game winning streak since falling in the season opener.
Senior midfielder Katelin Teter and senior defenders Jentry Cruce and Anna McGuire have the Lady Zebras playing their best soccer in the closing week of the regular season.
Behind Teter, Cruce and McGuire, as well as other seniors Bailey Bacon and Emily Parkinson, the Lady Zebras (9-1) are currently ranked No. 4 overall in the Class 5A girls soccer state poll.
BASEBALL: Claremore splits series with Collinsville
The moment Claremore senior catcher Matt Whatley got thrown out at home plate in the top of first inning, it was downhill for the Zebras.
Collinsville took advantage of six Claremore errors and erupted for 17 hits to thump the Zebras, 15-2 Friday afternoon in Metro Lakes Conference play.
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Nick Brown twirled a four-hitter and Catoosa held firm defensively with the game on the line, powering the Indians to a 4-3 victory over Fort Gibson Saturday on Senior Day.
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