The Pryor Times

Sports

April 30, 2014

Chouteau tops Colcord for school mark

CHOUTEAU, OK — H.L. Burton would have turned 100 this year.

Burton, a cattle rancher who gave a six-figure gift to Chouteau Public Schools in 1994, had his name memorialized in iron on the entrance to the modest field that Chouteau baseball calls home.

Burton was surely in attendance Monday, in spirit and in name, to watch the Wildcats pick up their school-record 27th win of the season, a 17-13 shootout victory against Colcord.

Before the game, first-year head coach Matt Tramel said his seniors have played the most important role in the amazing turnaround.

"These seniors have really bought into [the culture change], and that has meant a lot," he said. "We didn't have to start with the young guys."

It was 1994, the same year Burton pledged his gift to the school, that the Wildcats last played a postseason game on their home field. Thursday, the Wildcats will break some more new ground as they host Kiefer in a Class 2A district tournament doubleheader.

Ace right-hander Doug Mynahan, who will throw the first game Thursday, has plenty to do with the Wildcat resurgence. The senior has forged a 10-0 record on the season, striking out 94 batters and walking just a dozen.

"Doug's gonna be fighting to be an All-Stater," Tramel said.

The six Wildcat seniors have led Chouteau to a 27-5 record before the postseason begins. The Wildcats jumped Caney Valley for the No. 15 slot in the final OSSAArankings.com poll and, with a little help, could host a regional.

"I'd like to say we expected it," Mynahan said, "But I don't think we did ... Ever since Coach Tramel showed up, I knew things were going to be different."

Chouteau has had to overcome the loss of an assistant coach, Ed Russell, who was dismissed from his coaching duties earlier this year.

"We talk about adversity a lot, but you only hear about it if teams fail to overcome it," Tramel said. "We hated losing Coach Russell, but the fight goes on."

Against Colcord, the Wildcats rallied back from a pair of early deficits with a 10-run third inning in the rain to take a 14-7 lead they would hold the rest of the way.

Junior first-baseman Conner Darnell had three hits out of his eighth slot in the rotation to lead Chouteau.

"I think these guys were hungry to do something," Tramel said. "They're going to be able to come back in five, 10 years and say 'I started this.'

"The culture had to be changed. I feel like we've changed it, regardless of what happens from here on out."

As for Mynahan, he won't be satisfied with 27 wins, no matter how big the milestone looks on paper.

"We can make it to state," Mynahan said. "We know we can."

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