PHS pitching ace Culver signs to play at NOC-Enid

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Pawhuska High School senior Tyler Culver (seated, center) signs a letter of intent Thursday to play baseball for Northern Oklahoma College-Enid. Pictured at the signing ceremony, from left, is the head coach of the NOC Jets, Raydon Leaton, and Tyler’s parents, Clint and Jodi Culver. Seated at right is PHS baseball coach Brian Edwards. MIKE ERWIN/JOURNAL-CAPITAL

Pawhuska High School ace athlete Tyler Culver has signed a letter of intent to accept a baseball scholarship to Northern Oklahoma College-Enid.

Veteran NOC-Enid coach Raydon Leaton said the Pawhuska standout will be a quality addition to the Jets squad. With this year’s NOC season opener less than three weeks away, the coach said he was pleased to get a commitment for the future.

Culver is a four-year starter for the PHS diamond squad. The hard-hitting, rocket-armed righthander also plays shortstop and other infield positions. He was a three-year football standout on offense and defense as well as a former wrestler for the Huskies. As a senior this season, the 6-3 Culver joined the PHS basketball — for which he is the starting center.

Season opener for the Jets is set Feb. 8 at Enid, where a turf project was recently completed at David Allen Memorial Ballpark. The venerable stadium has been home for the 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 National Junior College Athletic Association Division II World Series.

This year’s NJCAA Region II Tournament will be held May 8-11 at the David Allen park. The tournament moves back to Enid after being played the past four years in Bartlesville.

Coach Leaton started the NOC Enid Jets baseball program in 2001. Since that time, he has guided Jets’ teams to three Bi-State Conference Championships, two Region II Championships, a Southwest District Championship, and a third-place finish at the 2002 World Series.

The Jets have been ranked nationally in 11 of the first 12 years of the program, including 4 times in the top 5. They won their 400th game in 2012. Leaton was also the Region II and SW District Coach of the Year in 2002 and Region II Coach of the Year again in 2004.

Two pitchers from the 2006 squad were taken in the Major League Draft. Success has followed Leaton from his playing days to his coaching career. In 1984 he tossed a 4-hit shutout for the State Champions from Tulsa Memorial in the first round of the 6A High School State Tournament.

As a freshman at Connors State College, Leaton was a member of the Region II Champions and posted the team’s only win in the District Tournament in St. Louis. Leaton began his coaching career as a student at Oklahoma State University. In his first head coaching duty with the Stillwater American Legion AA, the team finished third in the Legion World Series in New Ulm, Minnesota.

In his eight years as head baseball coach for Perry High School, Leaton’s teams won seven District Championships, two Regional Championships and made two state Tournament appearances. He compiled a record of 177-87 with two teams ranked #1 in the regular season.

In 1995 and 1996, Leaton was the pitching coach for the University of Indianapolis. He helped turn a 19-35 record into a 35-15 record and a playoff berth after one year. Leaton holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Education from Oklahoma State University and a Master of Science degree in Business Applications from the University of Central Oklahoma.

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