Lone Grove baseball 'up for the challenge' at Class 3A State Tournament

Beau Bearden
The Daily Ardmoreite
The Longhorns will open the Class 3A State Tournament against Tulsa's Holland Hall at 10 a.m. Thursday, May 13 at Choctaw High School.

Challenges are a part of life, whether you encounter them in the classroom or on the field. However, it’s safe to say the state tournament is one of the biggest tests of them all. Only a select few earn a trip and just one squad is crowned champion.

The Lone Grove High School baseball team is aware of the situation, especially with a difficult matchup against Holland Hall at 10 a.m. Thursday, May 13 in the opening round of the Class 3A State Tournament at Choctaw High School.

“Our kids are up for the challenge,” said Longhorns head coach Tyler Pybas. “They’re looking forward to going and playing. They’ve already represented our community very well, especially with the crowds that we had at the regional tournament.

“They’re just excited,” Pybas continued. “They know the challenge that they have before them. And our guys aren’t just happy to be there, they’re looking to make some noise at the state tournament. And hopefully come back home with the championship trophy.”

Only time will tell if Lone Grove accomplishes its goal, but it won’t be easy.

Holland Hall finished the regular season with a 29-5 record, followed by a 4-1 mark during regional action. The Dutch only lost two games in April, with one of those setbacks coming against Class 6A Broken Arrow.

“We just want to get the challenge out of the way,” said Longhorns senior Jace Brandenburg. “None of us really think anything of it. With them being a No. 1 seed in their regional, that’ll be our toughest game. We’ll have other tough games, but if we get that one out of the way, then we’ll be alright.”

With a win, Lone Grove would face Cascia Hall or Victory Christian at 11 a.m. Friday, May 14. However, the Longhorns are focused on the task at hand and also looking to keep the bats rolling following a 15-1 victory against Washington on Saturday.

“Winning after the loss like we did really helped us and that’s enough momentum to carry us into state,” said Lone Grove senior Gavin Peery. “It really showed us what we are capable of and it woke us up. We should be fired up and ready to go.”

That mentality should pay off for the Longhorns as this group is making its first trip to the state tournament. The unfamiliar territory might bother some teams, but Lone Grove believes it won’t take long to adjust.

“They’ll definitely be nerves throughout the team, but once we throw that first pitch Thursday morning, we’ll be just fine,” Brandenburg said. “Everyone will ease down and it’s just another day in the office.”

Meanwhile, Peery has a different approach to playing on the biggest stage of them all.

“As far as nerves, there’s nothing to be nervous about,” he said. “We’re going out doing what we do every day — just playing baseball.”