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Archive for: June 2015

Piedmont downs Lone Grove in Red Dirt League playoffs

Daniel Smola

The Piedmont Wildcats defeated the Lone Grove Longhorns 8-0 in five innings of Red Dirt League summer baseball action on Thursday night in Piedmont.

The Wildcats quickly jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning and never looked back. They scored in all but the fifth inning behind seven hits and three Longhorn errors. Gabe Griffith lead the way for the Wildcats, batting 3-4 with a double and 1 RBI.

Blake Colston/Gazette Piedmont shortstop Gabe Griffith makes a throw to third base to force out a Lone Grove runner Thursday.

Blake Colston/Gazette
Piedmont shortstop Gabe Griffith makes a throw to third base to force out a Lone Grove runner Thursday.

Brayden Nelson controlled the game from the mound as he struck out six Longhorn batters and allowed only one hit in four innings.

Coach Kory Williams was pleased with his team’s performance. Read more →

Nelson ready for expanded role next season

Blake Colston


Brayden Nelson didn’t have much to say, but he knows what he has to do.

Piedmont’s top reliever a season ago, Nelson is penciled in to join the Wildcats district rotation alongside fellow senior Trevin Michael next season. It’s a big adjustment for Nelson, who made just three starts last season.

Nelson’s taken the summer to get used to starting games and extending himself five, six or seven innings rather than just two or three. These days, it’s a marathon not a sprint for him.

Blake Colston/Gazette Piedmont's Brayden Nelson delivers a pitch in a summer league against Lone Grove on Thursday in Piedmont.

Blake Colston/Gazette
Piedmont’s Brayden Nelson delivers a pitch in a summer league against Lone Grove on Thursday in Piedmont.

“I’m trying to work on not overdoing myself in the first few innings,” Nelson said. “I want to be more consistent later in games. I’ve got to lay off the pop and stuff like that.”

He acknowledged the challenge of transitioning from pitching in relief most of his career to likely becoming almost exclusively a starter as a senior is tough mentally as well, but he’s up for the challenge.

“It’ll be different, but it’ll be fun,” he said. “I think I’m ready for it.”

In five starts in the Red Dirt summer league this May and June, Nelson has logged 27 2/3 innings after pitching just 34 all of last season. He’s embraced the opportunity, striking out 33 batters in five starts while walking only nine and allowing 18 hits. Read more →

Stark excited for chance in Piedmont

Blake Colston

Piedmont’s search for a new girls basketball coach is complete.

On Thursday, Piedmont Schools Superintendent James White announced that Okeene girls basketball head coach Jordan Stark had accepted Piedmont’s head coaching position.

“Coach Stark will be a tremendous asset to our district, and we are looking forward to her working with our student-athletes to continue the recent success of our basketball program,” White said. “She will bring energy and enthusiasm to our school district.”

“This is a great opportunity for me,” Stark, who met with her players on Friday, added in a phone interview with The Gazette on Friday afternoon. “I’m really excited to get started.”

Stark, an All-State performer in high school for Weatherford’s 2007 4A state championship team who went on to play in college at the University of Texas-San Antonio, led Okeene to a 12-12 record in her only season as head coach at the Class A school. Stark played for legendary high school basketball coach Rick Wilson at Weatherford. She also spent two seasons as an assistant coach at Clinton High School.

Stark learned from each of the experiences.

“Coach Wilson taught me a lot about having character as a person and always competing,” she said. “At UTSA, I learned so much about the dynamics of the game and really understanding opponents. It was much more about x’s and o’s there.” Read more →

Brucker takes unique path to Piedmont

Blake Colston

Brad Brucker can’t imagine doing anything else with his life. Which, considering the unorthodox path he took to his role as Piedmont’s girls head soccer and volleyball coach, makes sense.

Driven to a role as a mentor for high school age kids since college, the 34-year-old coach and father of two says he’s found his niche now, after a
decade-long search filled with rocky ups and downs.6-25 Piedmont mast

“I’m right where I want to be,” he said.

Athletics have always been a part of his life. Born in Illinois, Brucker moved to Mustang with his family at the age of three. He stayed there through high school and grew into a burgeoning soccer star with Division I dreams.

“My one goal in life at that point was to play D-1 soccer,” Brucker said. Read more →

Barry Jr. taught us about caring, friendship

Blake Colston

Last weekend, the Oklahoma sports landscape was rocked by the shocking and far-too-early death of KFOR sports director and WWLS radio personality Bob Barry Jr. in a motorcycle accident.

It was a solemn reminder that even larger-than-life figures like the 58-year-old Barry, who had a bright smile and infectious personality, can be gone in an instant.

It wasn’t necessary to know Barry personally to feel better for having met him. I met him on two separate occasions at college football games in the press box at OU, both in passing, yet each time he made a young, no-name sportswriter feel welcomed as part of the fraternity.  bbj

His cheery, down-to-earth demeanor made him easy to talk to and even easier to like. Everyone that met him had a quick, yet lasting memory of their meeting that brought a smile to their face long after.

Gazette advertising manager Randy Anderson shared a funny story about meeting Barry at a Sports Animal remote show at the grand opening of Great Plains National Bank in Piedmont in January of 2013. Read more →

Robinson completes memorial run/walk

Piedmont City Councilman Donnie Robinson wearing medal.

Piedmont City Councilman Donnie Robinson on Saturday morning proudly wears the medal he received after completing the Shannon Robinson-Mabe Memorial Run/Walk in Mansfield, Texas. Shannon passed away in March after a long battle with cancer.

Donnie Robinson crosses the finish line in the Robinson-Mabe Memorial Run/Walk.

Brandon and Morris compete in All-State softball game

Madi Morris

Madi Morris

Michelle Brandon

Michelle Brandon

Daniel Smola


EDMOND – Piedmont’s Michelle Brandon and Madi Morris represented the Wildcats in the Large All-State softball game at Oklahoma Christian University on Saturday afternoon.

The East All-State team bested the West 5-3 in an intense contest. Brandon had 1 hit and 1 run for the West and also made some plays in the field.

“I thought I played good,” Brandon said. “It’s fun getting to play in these games. It feels awesome that my hard work has paid off and to be able to play in this game.”

Morris thought she could have played better, but enjoyed her experience as an All-Stater.

“Not the best. I knew I could’ve done better,” Morris said of her performance. “But it was a good experience playing with these girls.”

Morris was honored to have the opportunity to play with the state’s best.

“It was an amazing experience to play in the All-State game,” she said. “I made some really good friends today.”

Both Brandon and Morris’ goals for the game focused on playing hard and representing the Wildcats one last time.

“My goals were to hit the ball hard and play the best I can in the field,” Brandon said.

“To play my heart out and represent Piedmont one last time,” Morris said.

Both athletes were thrilled to share the All-State experience with each other.

“It feels great,” Brandon said. “One last game together in a Piedmont uniform is great.”

“Of course it was a great experience,” Morris said. “We have this summer together then off to school.”

Both are playing softball in college. Brandon is attending East Central University and Morris is heading to Southwestern Oklahoma State University.

“I think we’re in the same conference, so we might even get to play each other next year,” Brandon noted.

Brandon also noted that she enjoyed her last season at Piedmont.

“It was the best season I could ask for,” she said. “With the seniors and everything, it ended really well.”

Morris had a few people to thank for her success in softball.

“My family. My mom and sister and especially my dad for getting me into the game. And all of the coaches I’ve ever played for.”

Spencer’s goal highlights All-State games for Piedmont

Blake Colston

NOBLE — Piedmont’s Thomas Spencer made the 5A All-State team for his offensive prowess, so it was only natural that he’d show it off in the game.

Spencer scored the West’s only goal in the first half and narrowly missed an equalizing goal in the second half of a 3-2 East victory Friday night in the Class 5A All-State soccer game at Noble Stadium.

Blake Colston/Gazette Thomas Spencer controls the ball in the first half of Friday's All-State game in Noble.

Blake Colston/Gazette
Thomas Spencer controls the ball in the first half of Friday’s All-State game in Noble.

“I’m out of shape, I can tell you that,” Spencer said afterwards. “If I were in better shape and ran a little bit more I feel like it would’ve been a different result. But I feel like I did all right.”

Spencer weaved in and out of East team defenders then broke free to sneak a shot just past the East keeper for his goal at the 15:56 mark of the first half.

“I really didn’t intend to shoot it,” Spencer said. “Then Connor (McGinnis of Heritage Hall) just said go ahead and have it. So I took it and it started bouncing and one thing led to another.”

Later, in the second half with the West trailing 3-2, Spencer broke into the clear in the box, but didn’t manage to get a shot off. Teammate Jake Loper, who also took part in the game, joked afterwards about the near miss. Read more →

Piedmont basketball plays with uncertain future



Blake Colston

EDMOND — It would seem like a basketball players dream to play without a coach on the sideline.

But Piedmont’s McKenna Kirkpatrick and Maddie Sperle are already tired of the freedom. With former head coach Jamie Hill off to Tulsa Union and the search for her new replacement still ongoing, for the moment, Piedmont basketball is rudderless. A feeling neither player is comfortable with.

“It’s up to us until we can get a coach,” Kirkpatrick said.

The top returners for the Lady Wildcats heading into next season, Kirkpatrick and Sperle have helped lead Piedmont through its Edmond summer league slate with newly hired assistant coach Ryan Burcham serving as head coach for now.

“It’s kind of weird because we really don’t have a coach right now, so we’re out there kind of coaching ourselves,” Sperle, the team’s leading returning scorer and only returning starter, said. “It’s different, but we’re also learning and getting better.”

With four senior starters gone, including college-bound talents Bre Reid and Hayden Priddy, Kirkpatrick and Sperle not only have to lead their team through summer, but also are tasked with transforming from role players the last two seasons, to the ‘Cats go-to players this winter. Read more →

Chism balances sports with summer break

Blake Colston

EDMOND — Exhuasted and out of breath from running sprints after a 15-5 summer tournament loss to Edmond North, outfielder Hunter Chism said the first thing that came to mind.

“It’s hot out here,” he said plainly of the 91-degree late spring afternoon.

Blake Colston/Gazette Hunter Chism hits a pitch in a summer game at Edmond North.

Blake Colston/Gazette
Hunter Chism hits a pitch in a summer game at Edmond North.

The running totaled five sprints this day — not running out fly balls, failing to back up plays, etc. were the culprits.

Chism and his Wildcat teammates still had another game to play less than an hour later, their 10th game in seven days. So much for summer break.

Trying to balance being competitive and improving individually while still enjoying summer isn’t always easy for athletes like Chism. Time in a day can run short quickly.

“I’d say it’s hard, because being a kid in the summer you kind of want to take it really laid back,” he said. “But I think the approach has to be to come out here with a mindset to win, but still to have fun.” Read more →

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