PHS hosts Pawnee in district tourney

Mike Erwin |

The Pawhuska High School Huskies baseball team will host the Class 2A-District 30 playoff, which opens Thursday at the PHS field on 15th Street.

Pawhuska’s opponent in that best-of-three elimination series will be the Pawnee Black Bears. First pitch is set for noon. If a third contest is needed to decide the district series, it would be played Friday afternoon.

The district winner advances to one of next week’s Class 2A Regional Tournaments. First game at the regional will be played Thursday.

Brian Edwards, the coach of the Huskies, was glad to be playing at home for the districts. PHS has not hosted a District event since his first season as head coach, in 2014, when the Huskies defeated Adair.

Pawhuska senior Caleb Bruce was a freshman starter on the 2014 squad. The Huskies’ star pitcher/shortstop was moved to an unfamiliar position — first base — just before the district. As usual, Bruce performed admirably in the Huskies’ sweep of Adair.

“Caleb has shown he can do anything that you ask him to do, in just about any sport,” Edwards said. “He’s just about the most coachable kid I’ve ever seen and we’ve been very fortunate to have him.”

“Every coaches would love to have a whole team of guys like him,” added assistant coach Patrick McCarty, who had Bruce on his Bartlesville American Legion teams for the past two seasons.

In last year’s district playoff game at Ramona, Bruce struck out 16 Caney Valley batters, but the Huskies lost a 4-2 decision to the ranked Trojans.

Winners of the best-of-three-games’ district series will advance to Regional Tournaments set for May 4-6. The losing teams are eliminated from postseason competition.

If weather and home field conditions allowed, the Huskies were to have pre-district tuneups against high-caliber opponents Monday — when Class 2A’s No. 11-ranked Tonkawa Bucs were scheduled to play at PHS — and Tuesday, when the Dewey Bulldoggers (rated No. 19 in Class 3A) were to visit.