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The Ada News
Travis Graham has finalized a 21-man roster for his 2014 Ada Braves American Legion baseball team.
And he’s excited about the group he’s assembled.
“There’s no reason why the best baseball team in the state shouldn’t be right here,” he said. “Some of the top players from the top teams in the area will be Ada Braves.”
Kiyaanii Bohan, a freshman at East Central University and a product of Byng High School, will be the oldest in the group that Graham has dubbed as “Pitchers Only.”
Others in the group include: Mike Anderson of Roff, Dalton Wolf of Ada, Ty Gibbs of Holdenville, Gage Allen of Holdenville, Dennis Sims of Varnum and Tristen Wood of Latta.
“I feel like with the pitchers we’ve got, we have a lot of strike throwers. We have some guys with some good velocity and some good movement,” Graham said. “With everybody that we have pitching, it’s going to allow us to do a lot of matchups. We may play a nine-inning ball game and have five or six pitchers running out there to be able to keep teams off balance.”
Graham said two players will share most of the catching duties this summer for the Braves — Roff’s Cruz Villafranco and Holdenville’s Woodrow Lankford.
Ada Braves outfielders include: Scott Johnson of Ada, Walker Whitworth of Ada, Easton Elliott of Moss, Tristan Monroe of Latta, Ryan Pybas of Asher and Shawn Treat of Byng.
The infield for the Ada Braves will include: Parker Henderson of Latta, Tyler Miller of Varnum, Zach Lewis of Roff, Tucker Elliott of Moss, Braden “Whitey” Fortner of Byng and Hunter Larsh of Roff.
“The thing is, nearly all these guys can pitch, too. With as many guys that we have that can play baseball, they can go infield-outfield and can move around,” Graham said.
Graham believes the team’s strongest attribute heading into the summer is defense.
“I think teams will have to beat us. We’re not going to beat ourselves. I think we’ll be pretty consistent defensively,” he said.
Every American Legion Majors rosters will have to be trimmed down to 18 by the time the state tournament rolls around. But even if Graham has to cut three players at the end of the season, a few extra bodies throughout is always a plus.
“They all know that going in, so we’ll see what happens. They’ll still get over 40 games in,” he said. “You could have injuries or have people move. Things change so you always want to have a little wiggle room.”
The Ada Braves open the season Saturday (May 31) when 3 Rivers visits ECU’s Tiger Field for a 2 p.m. doubleheader.
The Braves will then do a lot of traveling during the June portion of the schedule. It’s off to Hutchison, Kansas, for a showcase tournament June 5-8 before heading to Bethany June 10 for a festival that includes the Oklahoma City Ambassadors and Bethany Bulls at Southern Nazarene University at 2 and 4 p.m.
On June 11, the Braves will battle perennial American Legion powerhouse Midwest City Outlaws at 6 and 8 p.m. at Rose State College in Midwest City.
The Braves will be a part of the huge 7th Annual Justin Sullivan Memorial Tournament scheduled for June 12-15. That event will be spread around to Oklahoma Christian, Southern Nazarene, Oklahoma City University, Rose State College, Mid-America Christian and Hillsdale Free Will Baptist College.
The Braves will play a doubleheader with Ardmore at 4 and 6 p.m. June 17 in Lone Grove before traveling to Bartlesville June 21-22 to take on the host Indians at 6 and 8 p.m. on Saturday and again at noon on Sunday.
They will be included in the field at the Midwest City Classic June 23-25 before finally returning home for a rematch with Bartlesville on June 30 and July 1.
July’s entire schedule has not quite been finalized yet, but Graham promised there would me more home games to come.
The best part about the Braves schedule is that his players will get exposure to a number of college coaches and scouts.
“My biggest goal is still to get all these guys a place to go by the end of summer,” he said. “Some of these guys are fighting for college spots and college scholarships, and we can give them a chance to get some playing time in some positions that maybe they’re not familiar with because of where they had to play in high school. They can showcase their skills, and that will give them the experience that they need.”