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Wildcat baseball headed to Omaha

Blake Colston

It’s on any baseball fans’ bucket list.

The College World Series in Omaha, Neb. is the mecca of college baseball.

For two weeks each June the best teams the sport has to offer flock to Omaha to crown a champion.

The fanfare follows. Hundreds of thousands of fans from around the country come to watch them play. This week, the Piedmont baseball team will be a part of it all. They left Piedmont Tuesday morning bound for Omaha on their way to take part in the College World Series Decker High School Tournament at Omaha’s Millard North High School.

The Wildcats will play five games in five days against high school and American Legion teams from North Dakota, South Dakota, Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio and Nebraska.

“We’ve always wanted to take a trip like this,” Piedmont head coach Kory Williams said.

Arguably the most anticipated part of the trip for players and coaches alike, will be the chance to watch a CWS game game at TD Ameritrade Park. It’s been more than a decade since Williams has seen a College World Series in person, and he’s excited for the opportunity to take his team to the event.

“I went in 1999 to the old Rosenblatt Stadium,” the coach said of his last trip to Omaha. “The environment is really unique. I think it’ll be really neat for the boys to get to see that and watch some good college baseball.”

The trip to Omaha will be the first for Piedmont senior outfielder, Max Jirak.

Although Jirak might be too old to bring his glove to the stadium to play catch or snag a foul ball, he says he’ll still be looking up the players on the field.

“Seeing them do what they do, you kind of take after it,” he said. “It’s like when you see your big brother do something and you want to follow his lead.”

That’s what his coach wants to happen.

“I want them to see how hard these amateur athletes play and how they do all the things that we preach all the time,” he said.

Tt’s surreal to think some of the players he’ll watch are his age, Jirak says.

“It’s not a playoff game in the MLB. It’s young kids just a year or two older than you doing what they love,” he said.

He’s checked out the bracket and already has a team or two he’ll be rooting for.

“I’m liking Indiana and UCLA right now,” Jirak said.

The Wildcats just missed a chance to catch up with a familiar face on the trip.

Former Piedmont star Cole Davis is a freshman catcher on Kansas State’s baseball team this season. His Wildcats needed two wins against Oregon State to clinch a trip to Omaha, but KSU lost a best-of-three series to the Beavers, 2-1.

“I was really hoping they’d make it so our boys would get to see him,” the coach said.

When the Wildcats aren’t busy taking in the festivities of the World Series, they’ll be playing baseball. They were set to open the tournament against Dakota Ridge High School of Littleton, Colo. June 19. It’s a 19 and under tournament and Williams expects PHS to face good competition from the 48-team field.

“We’re going to have our hands full,” he said. “But we’ll do our best and compete and see what happens.”

With so many teams from so many states in the event, Jirak wants Piedmont to take pride in representing their home state.

“You want to represent Oklahoma the best you can,” he said.





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