CHOUTEAU, OK —
On a blustery spring break Tuesday afternoon at H.L. Burton Field, Chouteau head coach Matt Tramel surveyed the weather before his Wildcats' game against Gore.
"We're the better team," he said, "but this wind might equal the playing field."
If he was trying to send any luck the Pirates' way, the wind blew it right back into his dugout.
Adam Snyder mashed a three-run home run in the bottom of the first inning to send the Wildcats hurtling toward their seventh-straight win, a 10-0 decision in four innings, and Chouteau's hottest start in some time.
"We've improved a lot since last season," Snyder, who has a pair of home runs on the season, said. "The home runs are just a plus. I'm just glad we're getting these wins."
Snyder's teammate Tyler Blalock got out to the fastest start of any Wildcat, launching three homers and batting above .900 in the team's first four games. He went 1-for-2 with a single Tuesday.
"It's all different," Blalock said of the team's new attitude. "Practices are different. Games are different. The whole mentality is different. It's very high-strung. We have expectations, and we've been following through with them so far.
"We're getting our confidence built up. Out of the old, into the new."
Tramel said he has little to do with the 7-0 start. He said his players, especially Blalock, took it upon themselves to change the program, and their hard work is paying dividends far sooner than he expected.
"They've bought into what we're trying to do," Tramel said. "Coming out and being 7-0 means a lot to us. It means a lot to the school, it means a lot to everybody out here. It's something to build on. We're trying to get to the playoffs and see what can happen. Getting off to this hot start gives us a lot of confidence to keep going all the way through the season."
Tramel — still yet to lose a game as the Chouteau skipper — may discredit his own role in the hot streak, but it's plain that the turnaround at least begins with him. Tramel's pedigree includes coaching stops at NAIA and Pacific-10 colleges, but his roots brought him back to Mayes County.
However, Tramel knows that Chouteau is still trying to earn respect.
"You have to believe you can win," Tramel said. "I think no matter who you put on the field, when the first pitch is thrown, they believe they can win."
"I think everyone around the state is going to start to realize who we are," Snyder said.
Senior Doug Mynahan, who threw a two-hit shutout against Gore, improved to 3-0. Mynahan and the rest of the Wildcats have stayed home for spring break, but Snyder doesn't mind.
"Nowhere I'd rather be than right here on the baseball diamond," he said.