– BY MICHAEL KNIGHT
Carl Albert (19-18)
Carl Albert is back into the state tournament after a rare loss in the regional round last year. The Titans come into the tournament with a not so glamorous 19-18 record but they’ve played one of the more difficult schedules this year. They’ll have their work cut out for them when they open up tournament play. They’re one of three teams in the tournament field that is winless against 5A tourney teams.
Championships: 5 (2007, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2014)
Record Against 5A State Teams: (0-3)
The Claremore Zebras are back in the state tournament after missing the tourney the last two seasons. They took care of business during regionals by beating Memorial and then Edison twice. The Zebras have won 13 out of their last 15 games. However, the two losses came to fellow tournament teams Durant and Shawnee. Luckily, both teams are on the opposite side of the bracket from the Zebras.
Championships: 4 (1993, 1999, 2003, 2005)
Record Against 5A State Teams: (1-2)
Coweta is probably the most unlikely state tournament team. However, the Tigers earned their way into the tournament with a dominant showing during the regional round. They’ll square off with Lawton MacArthur in the first round. If they advance, they could run into district rival Pryor in the semifinals.
Championships: 1 (1999)
Record Against 5A State Teams: (0-4)
Durant is an unlikely team headed to state after stealing the Collinsville regional title. The Lions earned their way to state by going 3-0 during regionals last week. That was a big turnaround after they had lost six of the last ten games to end the regular season. They’ll need to keep the momentum they got from last week’s regional when they face undefeated Shawnee in the first round.
Record Against 5A State Teams: (5-2)
Lawton MacArthur (27-10)
Lawton MacArthur is headed to the state tournament for the first time in a long time as they avoided a big upset in the regional round after losing to Lawton Eisenhower. The Highlanders are matched up with a Coweta team that has a 14-18 record. However, the Tigers should provide a challenge for the Highlanders who had to win two elimination games to make it to state.
Championships: 1 (1995)
Record Against 5A State Teams: (2-1)
Last year’s state runner up nearly didn’t make it to this year’s tournament. Piedmont had to win three elimination games to punch their ticket to the state tournament and they were able to do so. They made it all the way to the title game last year before losing to Shawnee. They met the Wolves twice in district play this year but lost each time by a combined score of 15-0.
Record Against 5A State Teams: (0-3)
Pryor returns to the state tournament for the second straight year and fourth trip in the last five seasons. However, the Tigers haven’t had much luck in recent memory. They’ve been bounced out in the first round in each of their last three trips. They’ll get their shot at a little revenge when they face Carl Albert in the first round. The Titans beat the Tigers in the first round in 2013 and 2014.
Record Against 5A State Teams: (4-3)
Two-time defending champion Shawnee is back in the state tournament and has to be considered the heavy favorite to capture a third consecutive title. The Wolves are a perfect 37-0 on the season and have won 49 consecutive games dating back to last year. While they’ve been dominant for the majority of the year, they have been pushed. They had to rally to beat fellow tourney teams Carl Albert and Pryor this season.
Championships: 2 (2015, 2016)
Record Against 5A State Teams: (6-0)
Shawnee Looking For Perfection & Three-Peat
The overwhelming storyline heading into the 5A tournament is Shawnee’s search for a perfect season. If the Wolves win three more games, they’ll be a perfect 40-0 and win their third straight state title. The undefeated season would be the second time a baseball team has gone perfect in the last five years. Owasso went 36-0 in 2013 on their way to a state championship. The Wolves will not only have a shot at winning a third straight state title, but a mythical national championship as well. Shawnee finds themselves at or near the top of just about every national ranking.
Coweta Heading To State As Underdog
Coweta heads into the state tournament with the worst record among tourney teams at 14-18. But they appear to be playing their best baseball at the right time. The Tigers began the season with a 2-10 record. They entered regionals last week at 11-18. However, they pulled off three straight dominating wins to capture the regional crown. They won their three regional games by a combined score of 30-2.
Carl Albert & Pryor Set For Another Showdown
For the third time in the last five years, Carl Albert and Pryor will square off in the first round. It hasn’t gone well for the Tigers in their previous encounters. Carl Albert won in 2013 and 2014. In fact, those wins over the Tigers were the beginning of two state championship runs.
Claremore VS Shawnee
It’s tough to not pick this Shawnee team. They’re loaded with talent and know what it takes to get the job done at the state tournament. However, they have been tested and they’ve been banged up in some areas. It could make the road to perfection a little bumpy. Claremore will provide a solid threat to the Wolves. The Zebras are hungry to make it back to the championship game.