CHICKASHA – It’s every little boy’s dream to be play professional sports, and on Saturday, that dream came true for USAO’s Blake McMullen.
McMullen, a senior pitcher for the Drovers’ baseball team, was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the 29th round of the MLB draft.
“Words can’t explain it. It’s just a dream come true to me,” McMullen said. “It’s awesome. I’m so excited.”
McMullen was one of 37 NAIA athletes to be chosen in the draft, which was a three-day, 40-round event. He is one of seven athletes from the Sooner Athletic Conference to be selected this year.
“I knew this was a possibility for Blake when he signed with us last year. He worked to achieve this goal and all the hard work as paid off and now he gets to go enjoy a professional career playing baseball,” USAO head coach Mike Ross said. “I’m very happy for him and his family, and I hope he makes the best of this opportunity.”
McMullen is the first Drover to be drafted since Matt Mallory went to the Florida Marlins franchise in 2007. Four Drovers have gone on to play professional affiliated baseball in the program’s history with two others playing non-affiliated professional baseball.
Saturday’s draft seemed to drag on for McMullen and his parents, John and Tracey, who came from Enid to Chickasha to follow the draft along with him.
“We sat around all morning, all afternoon I should say. We watched it on the Internet and listened to the radio. Finally, 4 o’clock comes along, and my name is called,” he describes. “My parents were crying. It was just an exciting day.”
McMullen is in a whirlwind right now, while his future is decided in the next week. He leaves Tuesday for a mini camp in Arizona with the A’s franchise.
The camp ends on Saturday, at which point, the coaches will decide where in the franchise McMullen will go — playing anywhere from rookie league to the class minors.
“My goals are basically just to move up as quick as I can,” he said. “I’m hoping that when I get there, they will like what they see and I can move up through the franchise as fast as I can.”
As one of the Drovers’ starting pitchers this season, McMullen earned All-Conference Second Team honors as well.
The senior led the team in strikeouts thrown with 95 on the season, breaking a school record in the postseason action in total strikeouts in a season. That total put him 18th in the NAIA.
With a 9-4 record on the season, McMullen was just one win away from tying the school record in most wins in a single season.
He saw 16 starts and threw five complete games and two shutouts. Only two former USAO pitchers have thrown two shutouts in a single season.
In 87.1 innings, he had a batting average against of .276. His fastball averages a speed of 89-91 mph, topping out at 94 mph this season, Ross said.
He is a business administration senior from Enid. McMullen said he plans to return to USAO to finish his degree once his baseball career is over.