ORU baseball has a knack for knocking off big name teams in the midweek.
Contributing to the Golden Eagles' success are a few former Claremore Zebra standouts. "Coming from that smaller background, it's cool to play these bigger teams and beat them,” said starting catcher Matt Whatley. “Me and Bryce have been playing together since we were eight and going to college together was a big deal, and it's certainly awesome to be beating these big guys."
Bryce Howe has been making Sunday starts during conference play and is 2-1 this season, while Jacob Teague has made appearances out the bullpen. "It's nice to have Jacob and Matt here. It ultimately makes me more comfortable on the mound," stated Howe.
Whatley's defense has improved, and when he switched to lead-off his play improved along with his teammates. In six games against Big 12 teams, his batting average is over 500 with nine RBIs. "It's great. You know, along with getting confidence from the older guys, my job is to see some pitches and hopefully get on base, and then share all that information with my teammates,” explained Whatley.
While Whatley has relished his role as lead-off man, the pitchers Howe and Teague have relished their new nicknames given to them by their teammates. Teague is known as Big Fish, while Howe is referred to as Big Breakfast. “[A] couple of seniors in the back just started yelling Big Breakfast out, and it actually ended up sticking and ever since everyone's been calling me Big Breakfast," Howe elaborated.
Despite the choice of nicknames, the Claremore kids are helping the team mesh into a unit that's only lost three of the last 20 games. "It helps us as a team, our confidence, that we can go out and beat those higher-ranked teams," said Howe. "Going out and beating them is special."