SALINA, OK —
Thanks either to a blast of wintry weather or everyone in the state leaving their freezer door open overnight, it took a few extra days to get the Class 3A state baseball tournament schedule straightened out.
Now that the frost has melted, head coach Matt Simmons and his Salina Wildcats finally know who they will be challenging in the first round at Edmond Deer Creek High School.
The Spiro Bulldogs (27-6) will be stiff competition at 4 p.m. today, but the Wildcats (25-9) didn't get where they are by loading up on cupcakes, either.
Those nine losses, which tie Kingston (24-9) for the second-most of any team still in the title hunt, may look bad on paper, but take into consideration that the Wildcats have yet to lose to a 3A opponent. All nine losses have come to either top-20 teams in higher classes or out-of-state competition.
Salina even took Class 4A's No. 1 team, Berryhill, to extra innings before falling 4-3 March 28 and a week later lost a heartbreaker to the new 4A No. 1 Catoosa, 7-6.
Like any good team, Salina doesn't focus on the losses, especially later in the season, when their losses are few and far between. The Wildcats are 14-2 since their April 8 setback at Class 5A Tahlequah.
Spiro represents the Wildcats' biggest challenge to date. The Bulldogs have won eight straight, including a regional tournament sweep of Eufaula, Hartshorne and Stigler last weekend.
It doesn't get any easier for the winner of the Salina-Spiro game, as the likely opponent in Round 2 will be No. 1 Verdigris. The Cardinals (29-2) have romped through their schedule and will face unranked Oklahoma Christian in the opening round.
Marlow (31-4) or Kingston will battle the winner of Stroud (27-4) and Vian (32-2) on the bottom of the bracket Friday. The title game is set for noon Saturday at Edmond Santa Fe High School.