Teams representing both small, rural Osage county schools and the big city will descend on Barnsdall as the Panthers play host during their annual invitational baseball tournament Thursday.
“We have a nice representation of teams,” Head Coach Jason Cole said. “Teams that we see during the regular season and teams from the Tulsa area that we’d normally never come into contact with.”
In addition to the Panthers, also in the bracket will be Pawhuska, Hominy, Woodland, Oklahoma Union, Tulsa McLain, NOAH, and Pawnee.
The three-day tournament will begin at 11 A.M. on Thursday, April 5 with the championship finals scheduled to begin at 5 P.M. on Saturday. The Panther’s first game will be against the McLain Scots at 3 P.M. and immediately preceding their game the Pawhuska Huskies will take on the Pawnee Black Bears at 1 P.M.
“I can’t wait,” said junior catcher and pitcher Jake Lanphear. “This is something that I look forward to all year.”
Lanphear had every right to be looking forward to playing in front of his hometown, Cole said
“I’ve had so many people compliment Jake. I think most umpires that we’ve had this year have told me what a great job he’s doing behind the plate,” Cole added.
But quite possibly the greatest acknowledgement that Lanphear has received was by the head coach of the Garber Wolverines.
The Panthers met the Wolverines in the consolation quarterfinals of the Tonkawa tournament. It was a tight game that the Panthers eventually lost 10-11. But the game was hanging in the balance with a Panther base runner in scoring position when Lanphear stepped to the plate.
“They intentionally walked me,” Lanphear said. “This was the first time that I’ve ever been compared to my sister.”
Jake’s sister, Heather, plays softball for Independence Community College and is currently ranked number four in the nation in the NJCAA for home runs.
“I’ve watched Heather get walked her whole life. It feels good when someone treats you with the same respect,” he said.
Cole said that Lanphear is not the only Panther getting recognition from opposing coaches.
“Copan’s coach was really surprised when I told him that Ethan Shaw was only a freshman,” Cole said. “He said he looked forward to watching him compete and grow over the next few years.”
Shaw earned this compliment after making three tremendous shoestring catches in one inning from his right field position to take the fire out of the Copan Hornets. He then followed his defensive effort up with several great at-bat appearances in which he drove in two RBI’s for the Panthers victory over the Hornets.
“I’ve made a few mistakes,” Shaw said. “I just hate to lose and sometimes I don’t listen to the coaches like I should.”
His coach said that Ethan’s mistakes are fixable and ones he can live with and given the choice between playing overly aggressive or timid, he’d take aggression every time.
“I wish everyone on the team had as much fire and determination as Shaw does,” Cole said.