CHICKASHA – Chickasha’s championship baseball legacy extends to the diamonds of the University of Science and Arts a group of Chickasha's best continue the tradition in the next level of competition.
“Chickasha baseball has a classy program, and great coaches, and the USAO staff has the same class, the same determination, and the same great coaching,” said Devan Shepard, a freshman who is redshirting for the Drovers this season. “Blake Taylor was the senior leader of our baseball team ... and he leads us again here.”
Taylor, a four-time high school defensive player of the year and senior catcher for the Drovers, is highly regarded by his peers and his coaches for his tough play and vocal leadership.
A key to the success of Chickasha High School deep runs into State Tournament play, Taylor hopes to bring the same fire and drive to the Drovers squad.
Taylor is one of four former Fightin’ Chicks who now play on the Drover baseball team. Joining him are USAO junior Heath Wilda and redshirt athletes Shepard and Tylor Lee. Wilda, who was a starting shortstop at Chickasha, played in three state championship games. Lee is player known for his batting and flexible defense is redshirting after playing a season at Redlands Community College.
Just one example of the impact these players have made at USAO is their most recent conference game against Northwestern Oklahoma State. In that game, Taylor hit a three-RBI homer to get the Drovers back into the game and Wilda hit the tying homer in the bottom of the ninth. The Drovers went on to win the game by one run.
Wilda joins the Drovers from the Oklahoma State Cowboy baseball team, where he played third base. He was a four-year letterman in high school and two-time Conference Player of the Year. He averaged more than .500 at bat in his junior and senior seasons, accumulating 18 home runs.
Lee and Shepard were both integral parts to the most recent success at CHS. While both are redshirted this season for the Drovers, they hope to make an impact next season.
“[These players] helped establish the foundation for the success in our program,” said Brad Gore, Chickasha High School coach.
This group of former Chicks hope to combine their skills with the other talented Drovers and enrich the legacy of USAO baseball within the Sooner Athletic Conference.
“We play in a really tough conference,” Taylor said. “So we just try to bring success to the program in what ways we can.”
After finishing 26-25 in 2011, the Drovers are off to an 11-10 start this season. They hope to improve on last year’s showing in conference play, where the Drovers went a 12-18.
With the work ethic and determination to win present in these Chickasha players, the outlook for Drover Baseball is good.
USAO's next home game is scheduled for 2 p.m. March 13 against Northwood University.
— Story by USAO student Patrick Rost