There can be no doubt that Pawhuska is this year’s kingpin of high school baseball in Osage County. Now, the Huskies have other worlds to conquer.
PHS captured its 14th season victory Monday by holding off the host Tigers for a 7-6 triumph at Shidler. It was Pawhuska’s second win over Shidler, following an 8-4 decision two weeks ago in the NOC tournament at Tonkawa.
The Huskies now have a 14-10 season record, with a 9-1 mark against the other five Osage County teams. As for the Tigers, their record of 16-5 is indicative of the fact that they are quality squad, a burgeoning beast of Oklahoma Class B.
As the postseason rapidly approaches, three final tuneups lie ahead for Pawhuska. The first comes at home Thursday when the Class 3A Huskies welcome an area rival, the Dewey Bulldoggers, for a 4:30 p.m. contest at the 15th Street field.
Dewey is 17-5 and ranked No. 16 in Class 4A, so the contest will pose a major challenge for the local squad. In their previous meeting in Dewey, the Doggers handed the Huskies an 8-0 thumping. The Huskies, as a team, have grown considerably since then, however.
Pawhuska is 7-3 in its last 10 games, with all three defeats coming by one run. The most recent setback —a 5-4 Friday loss to the Oklahoma Union Cougars — cost the Huskies a chance to play for a tournament championship on a second straight weekend.
Instead, PHS battered the Nowata Ironmen by a 17-4 margin to claim third place in the Cougars Invitational at South Coffeyville. Senior shortstop Eddie Oyster highlighted the onslaught by blasting a home run over the 300-foot right field fence.
Oklahoma Union, after advancing to the final largely due to an uncharacteristic rash of Huskie errors in the tourney semifinal Friday, went on to claim the championship with an 8-3 upset of the Caney Valley Trojans. PHS had opened the tourney Thursday by downing the Chelsea Dragons, 9-5.
PHS will get a rematch with the Cougars on Friday at the OUHS Shufeldt Sports Complex in south South Coffeyville. First pitch is set for 5 p.m.
Next Monday, Oklahoma Union is scheduled to play at Pawhuska with another 5 p.m. start. The Cougars currently are 15-5 and No. 18 in the 2A rankings. Caney Valley, at 15-4, was No. 11 in 2A after dropping a class size since last year when the Trojans knocked the Huskies out of the state playoffs with a two-game district sweep at Ramona.
The Oklahoma Secondary Schools Association announced last week that Pawhuska will be hosting the Lincoln Christian Bulldogs in the upcoming 3A district playoffs. The three-game district series eliminate half of the 64 teams in the class prior to the regional tournaments.
In speaking about the district matchup, Pawhuska coach Brian Edwards said he was glad that the Huskies were chosen to be a host site.
“I like our chances,” said the first-year head coach of the Huskies. “When we played Lincoln Christian in their tournament earlier in the year, we had the game won until we gave it away late.”
“It will be good to get another chance with them,” Edwards said of the Bulldogs.
Edwards said the Huskies have been hitting the ball well of late, but will need to avoid defensive problems if they are going to win the crucial games that lie ahead.
“If we come out and play, we can beat about anybody,” the coach said.
PHS 9, Chelsea 5
Pawhuska managed to find the runs and outs when they needed them Thursday in defeating Chelsea, 9-5, and advancing in the winners bracket of the Cougar Invitational Baseball Tournament at Oklahoma Union High School.
Kendall Oller picked up three hits, drove home three runs and reached base four straight times for Pawhuska. With two out and the bases loaded in the fifth inning, the PHS junior laced a full-count pitch to right for a two-RBI single that put the Huskies ahead, 4-1.
The Dragons rallied back to within a run with a pair of their own in the bottom half of the fifth. As Chelsea threatened to tie the score, the inning was ended by a bizarre double play that involved twin rundowns and a clinching tag-out by Huskie centerfielder Dallas McCarty.
In its final at bat in the sixth, Pawhuska put the contest out of reach by scoring five times to lead by six (9-3). Five walks and a hit batsman fueled the outburst, which was capped Huskie senior Trent Hollister with a two-out, two-run single off an 0-2 pitch count.
Eddie Oyster went the distance on the mound for PHS. The senior right-hander notched two strikeouts, hit two batters and walked three. On the last play of the game, Oyster scooped up an infield roller and raced to the first-base bag where he recorded the final out unassisted.
The Huskies finished with nine hits, all of them singles. Chelsea’s six total safeties included the game’s only extra-base hit, a double to lead off the second. The Dragons left six runners on base, while Pawhuska stranded 11.
Tyler Culver had a pair of singles, scored twice and drove in two runs for PHS. A sacrifice fly by Oyster and single by Zalin Edwards produced the other Huskie runs.
OUHS 6, Huskies 5
Oklahoma Union advanced to the championship round of its own tourney by overcoming a 3-0 Pawhuska lead and then holding off the Huskies, 6- 5, on Friday.
Channing Williams pitched all seven innings in the Oklahoma Union win over Pawhuska. The senior fireballer of the Cougars struck out eight, walked three and hit two Huskie batsmen, while scattering five hits. In the final inning, the Huskies had the tying run at third base when Williams got the last batter to hit a game-ending infield popout to second baseman Nathan McClure.
Pawhuska controlled the action early by scoring a run in the second inning and two in the third. The Cougars tied the contest, 3-3, in the home half of the fourth. All the Oklahoma Union runs resulted from four Huskie fielding errors.
Kendall Oller, a junior, pitched five strong innings for the visitors. The Pawhuska starter allowed just two hits, one of them a long double by McClure. He was relieved in the sixth by another righthanded junior, Tyler Culver.
Culver struck out the side in the sixth, but not before the Cougars tallied twice to take a 5-3 advantage. A leadoff walk to Oklahoma Union eventually turned in to the go-ahead run on a two-out infield error by the Huskies.
After reaching on the error, the Cougar baserunner came around to score the second Oklahoma Union run of the inning. That run wound up being the difference in the game as Pawhuska scored one last time in the seventh.