Braves grew during American Legion season

Mike Tupa
In the latter part of the American Legion baseball season, Randsom Jones was called up from the United Linen Braves in order to play for the Doenges Ford Indians. Mike Tupa/Examiner-Enterprise

No two summers are alike — in some ways.

A year ago, coach Pat McCarty guided the Bartlesville United Linen Braves to the team’s first-ever American Legion AAA state championship.

In 2017, the short-handed and less-experienced Braves didn’t get an opportunity to defend their title.

But, the two squads shared one commonality — the willingness and work ethic to improve.

“I think watching them grow as a team was most rewarding,” McCarty said about this year’s crew. “We all improved across the board. They’re still pretty young, but they developed some fight during the year.”

Late in the season, the Braves rallied from a major deficit against Claremore “and I don’t think they would have done that early in the year,” said McCarty. “We also played Woodland and played pretty well. Even when they played in a 19-and-under tournament in Henryetta, they played a good Anadarko team close. They lost but they never laid down. It was nice to see them grow as a team.”

But, McCarty had to compose some creative lineups, due to the absence of players on and off during the year.

“Some kids played in positions they don’t normally play,” he observed.

Someone who was always in position was Randsom Jones, the teams unquestioned ace on the mound, McCarty said.

“His little brother Ryan did a great job and gave us some great innings,” McCarty continued. “Seth Rogers came in and threw well for us. Pitching-wise, those three left-handers helped us through.”

Levi Juby proved to the a MVP — Most Versatile Player.

“He played every position we needed him to play,” said McCarty. “He never complained.”

Juby and Corbin McCarty “never walked off the diamond with a clean uniform,” the coach continued. “I’d hate to be there mamas and try to get their uniforms clean.”

Several other Braves also played their part in a memorable summer.

Cooper Park — whose specialty is wrestling, and is probably going to be a state champion — hadn’t play a whole lot of baseball but made a positive impact, McCarty said.

Caney Valley’s Chase Brim fueled the offense.

“We got unbelievable pop out of his bat,” said McCarty.

Oklahoma Union’s Britt Epperson recovered from injury and provided both timely hits and some quality innings late, the coach continued.

He also praised Hunter Reed for his hustle.